England skipper Dylan Hartley and No8 Nathan Hughes available for autumn fixtures, but prop Joe Marler hit with three-game ban

 
Ross McLean
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ASM Clermont Auvergne v Northampton Saints -  Champions Cup
Hartley has served numerous suspensions during his career (Source: Getty)

Skipper Dylan Hartley and No8 Nathan Hughes will both be available for England’s autumn showdowns, although prop Joe Marler will miss clashes against Argentina and Australia following Wednesday's disciplinary hearings.

Northampton’s Hartley was cited for striking Clermont Auvergne prop Rabah Slimani during Saturday’s European Champions Cup clash but, having pleaded not guilty to the charge, the 31-year-old was cleared and will face no sanction.

Hartley’s reprieve will act as a major boost to England head coach Eddie Jones, who names his squad for the autumn programme on Thursday.

Wasps powerhouse Hughes, meanwhile, was slapped with a two-week ban after the charge of a dangerous tackle on Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith was upheld, although the length of suspension means he will be free to face Argentina on 11 November.

Marler, however, will miss England’s tussles with the Pumas and Australia after being cited for hitting Wasps lock Will Rowlands with his elbow on Sunday. Although the panel decided he actually hit the second-row with his arm, it was deemed the action warranted a red card.

The committee opted for a four-week suspension, which was reduced by one given Marler’s guilty plea and expression of remorse. He will be free to return for England’s final autumn fixture against Samoa on 25 November.

“In deciding that Marler is suspended until midnight on Sunday 19 November, the panel took into account the player’s likely playing commitments in the coming weeks,” read a European Professional Club Rugby statement.

A statement regarding Hartley read: “It was found Hartley had committed a reckless act of foul play in that he had struck Slimani in the face. However, the committee was not satisfied that the offence had warranted a red card.”

Northampton director or rugby Jim Mallinder questioned the charging of Hartley. He said: “The decision to cite Dylan from Saturday’s game against Clermont was unjustified.”

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