Rugby Union

Saracens' Chris Ashton was given a 10-week ban.

Eddie Jones tells Chris Ashton he needs to accept responsibility for his ban

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England head coach Eddie Jones has told Chris Ashton he must accept responsibility for the ban that has ruled him out of the entire RBS 6 Nations.

Saracens are deciding whether to appeal the 10-week suspension incurred for making contact with the eye or eye area of Ulster centre Luke Marshall in the first half of Saturday's 33-17 Champions Cup victory.

The 28-year-old grabbed Marshall around the neck and pulled him to the ground with his hands sliding over the Ireland centre's face. Marshall complained about the contact and upon reviewing the incident referee Jerome Garces awarded a penalty.

The citing officer subsequently lodged a complaint that has been upheld by an independent disciplinary hearing and Saracens have 72 hours until after the written judgement is received to decide whether to lodge an appeal.

"Chris has got to take responsibility for it. Is the suspension too hard? No. That's the suspension he's got. One-hundred per cent the onus is on him to make sure he doesn't get into that position," Jones said.

"But I am disappointed for him. He was a player in our squad. He's been playing well this season and it looks like he has been working hard.

"He's got that enthusiasm to get the ball and has been one of the form players in the Premiership.

"He has a real sniff for the try line and that is a skill in itself. It's a set-back. Everyone has set-backs and it's about how hard he fights back now.

"He has to serve his time, come back, make sure he is looking after his fitness, his speed and his skills and make sure he comes back in good fettle.

"If he is back on the field and playing well then he will be available for selection again. I'm very disappointed for him and disappointed for the team, but we move on."

Jones will announce Ashton's replacement in the Elite Player Squad only once the appeal process is completed.

It is a savage blow for Ashton, who had fought his way back into the England squad after falling out of favour under the previous regime because of his perceived defensive frailties.

He has spent the previous 18 months in international exile but had been earmarked to start on the right wing against Scotland on February 6 and his absence robs England of their deadliest finisher, who has crossed 19 times in 39 Tests.

Ashton is highly valued at Saracens where he has been a prolific try-scorer since arriving from Northampton in 2012 and Alex Goode, who is also in Jones' 33-man squad for the Six Nations, defended his club team-mate.

"Chris is not a malicious person. He's had run-ins and bits and pieces before but he's not a malicious person," Goode said.

"He never goes out of his way to be nasty, I've never seen him try and gouge or do anything like that. I think it's very unfortunate.

"He's a good mate and I just feel for him. He wouldn't have intentionally done that and I know that."

Ashton pleaded not guilty to the offence, but the independent hearing viewed the incident differently and a European Professional Club Rugby statement revealed that the suspension had been reduced from 13 to 10 weeks due to good character and good conduct at the hearing.

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