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England: Chris Ashton to miss Fiji game after ban

Chris Ashton will miss England’s opening QBE autumn international against Fiji after being suspended last night by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel.

The post-match Level One citing amounts to the equivalent of a yellow card against his name and that will bring his total of sin-binnings to three this season. He sat out ten minutes of Saracens opener against London Irish and was also handed a yellow card against Exeter on September 23 with both sin-binnings due to dangerous charging. And following an alleged dangerous tackle on Vasily Artemyev at the weekend, he has now received three yellow cards for foul play this season.

The one-week suspension runs from 4 November specifically to include the Fiji game because Ashton was not released by England to play for Saracens this weekend. Ashton will be available for England’s autumn Tests against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand but he joins a lengthening list of absentees from the Fiji game.

Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes have both been ruled out of the match on 10 November with knee injuries while Jonathan Joseph is rated as doubtful after damaging his ankle at the weekend. Ashton’s suspension opens the way for Ugo Monye and Charlie Sharples to be England’s likely starting wings against Fiji.

In the meantime, Ashton has been urged by the RFU’s disciplinary panel to work on his tackle technique after effectively receiving three yellow cards for dangerous play this season.

"We deferred commencement until Sunday, Nov. 4 so he misses a game he would have played in," disciplinary board member Jeff Blackett said in a statement. "We are concerned about his tackling technique and encourage that he and his coaches work to correct it."

After meeting Fiji, England hosts Australia on Nov. 17, South Africa on Nov. 24 and world champion New Zealand on Dec. 1.

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