Dylan Hartley: Northampton hooker disappointed by sin-binning

Dylan Hartley
Dylan Hartley was sent to the sin bin after 14 minutes against Racing Metro

Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley was frustrated by his sin-binning after trying to avoid controversy in Saturday's game against Racing Metro.

The 28-year-old, who returned from a three-week ban last week, was shown a yellow card for tackling on the ground.

He will now join up with the England squad before the Six Nations.

"I thought I did everything I could going into this game. I knew the spotlight would be on me," Hartley told BBC Radio Northampton.

Questions about his discipline were again asked last month after he was dismissed and banned for elbowing Leicester's Matt Smith.

It took the total number of weeks he has been suspended in his career to 50, for offences ranging from gouging, biting and striking to verbally abusing a referee.

But the yellow card against the Parisians, in a game which a limp Saints side lost 32-8, was for a technical infringement, when he held on to Maxime Machenaud from the ground 14 minutes into the game.

"You can imagine my disappointment when I was shown a card," he said.

"I just saw a player run over me, I put my hands up and I tackled him. The next thing I know, I'm in the sin-bin."

Racing Metro
Racing Metro were able to claim a home quarter-final with their convincing win at Franklin's Gardens

Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder, whose side progressed to a European Champions Cup quarter-final at Clermont Auvergne despite the defeat, said referee Nigel Owens had made the correct decision.

"He was on the floor and he tackled him when he should've got back on his feet," Mallinder said.

"It was a technical offence, he did it to stop the attack, for the sake of the team, so for me there's not a big issue about it. He played well and hopefully he'll get picked for England next week"

Hartley, who has 61 England caps, will be expected to start at hooker for the Six Nations opener against Wales on Friday, 6 February.

"I think results are key for us now. We need to try and win this tournament and not be scared about saying it either," he said.

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