Forearm-swinging hooker Dylan Hartley won't face another yet another suspension for this incident in last weekend's Champions Cup defeat to Clermont.
He was sin-binned at the time, and subsequently cited.
Today, the citing commissioner has deemed that Hartley should face no further punishment, which precedence teaches us is probably fair enough. The incident is very similar to the offence that earned Sean O'Brien a citing after the second Lions Test in New Zealand. O'Brien did not receive a yellow card at the time, and after a lengthy hearing in Auckland, it was dismissed and O'Brien was free to play in the third Test.
But as Hartley has dodged suspension, his club have released a statement suggesting that the England captain has been unfairly singled out.
Here's the statement in full.
Northampton Saints have issued the following statement in response to the outcome of Dylan Hartley's citing.
The citing complaint against Hartley has today been dismissed by an independent panel and the hooker is free to play against Wasps on Saturday in the Aviva Premiership at Franklin's Gardens.
Saints' director of rugby Jim Mallinder said:
“The decision to cite Dylan from Saturday’s game against Clermont was unjustified. This was a run-of-the-mill rugby incident during a high intensity game of European rugby.
"Anyone who watched the game could see that this was completely accidental – a misjudgement at a clear–out, plain and simple. When we should be preparing for a crucial league game against Wasps this Saturday, we have instead been distracted by what we believe was an unwarranted judicial hearing.
"Citings like this do beg the question of whether Dylan is being singled out for what has happened in the past rather than being judged solely on Saturday’s game.”
As mentioned above, the precedence set by O'Brien's case in New Zealand means that Hartley's citing was justified, and it is perhaps wishful thinking that those in charge in rugby can ignore Hartley's lengthy rap sheet: he has served suspensions totalling more than a year for just about every offence going: biting, verbal abuse, eye-gouging, punching, head-butting, and striking.