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Eleven week ban for referee abuse

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irb.com and James Mortimer     27 May 2013     Getty Images

The hooker was sent off for abusing a match official, contrary to Law 10(4)(s) and (m) in yesterday’s Aviva Premiership final against Leicester Tigers at Twickenham Stadium.

At the hearing he pleaded not guilty but the panel found him guilty and determined that this was mid-range on the scale of seriousness. The entry point for mid-range is a suspension of twelve weeks and that was reduced by one week to reflect his good conduct at the hearing.

He is suspended fromMay 26 until July 6 and from August 17 to August 31 and free to play again on September 1.

In accordance with the Lions tour agreement, the six-week tour of Australia represents eight of the eleven weeks suspension because of the tour schedule. The remaining three weeks of the suspension cover three of Northampton Saints’ pre-season matches.

The case was heard at Epsom Downs Holiday Inn by a panel of His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett, Jeremy Summers and Peter Budge.

Judge Blackett said: “We cannot get around the fact that Wayne Barnes was certain that Mr. Hartley’s comments were directed at him. Wayne Barnes said that if he had had any doubt in his mind, then he would have given the player the benefit of the doubt.

"In terms of sanction, calling a referee a cheat is an attack on his integrity and contrary to the core values of rugby and therefore we have taken a serious view and provided a serious sanction.”