Rugby Union

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Chris Ashton gets sent off in pre-season for Sale Sharks after punching a Castres player

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England's Rugby Union outfit was bolstered this summer as Chris Ashton returned to the country.

After a year at French outfit Toulon, Ashton signed for Sale Sharks, just a year into a three-year contract at the Top 14 side, citing personal reasons as a factor for returning to the north-west of England.

Ashton's solitary campaign in southern France was a hit, notching 24 tries in 23 appearances from the wing, and giving performances that made England fans clamour for his return to the national set-up.

There was no possible way that Ashton could return to Eddie Jones' squad though unless he made a move back to England, but a transfer to the Sharks means the 31-year-old can try and force his way back into the line-up.

Ashton hasn't donned the all-white strip since 2014, but Jones did call him up in 2016 for the Six Nations Championship. That didn't last though.

Banned for 10 weeks by the RFU for an eye-gouging incident meant he had to miss the tournament, and a subsequent 13-week suspension for biting Northampton's Alex Waller all-but put an end to his future under the Australia-born coach.

But after a hat-trick scoring performance for the Barbarians against his country last May, and his all-round general play last season, Jones has named Ashton in his pre-season training squad.

After recent England returnee Danny Cipriani hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons this week, rugby union couldn't afford for another top star to do something silly - but Ashton had other ideas.

Sale Sharks Squad Photo Call

In just his second game for the Sharks, Ashton was involved in a bust-up with Castres' Rory Kockott, and it's unclear as to how it really started, as seen in the video below.

Ashton seemingly signals that he was struck in the back of the head by Kockott, but the evidence seems very inconclusive, Ashton though was definitely out of order and was deservedly given his marching orders.

And Sale are waiting on match referee Romain Poite's report to see if matters will be taken further, and if they are, it may mean Ashton misses the start of the 2018/19 Aviva Premiership season.

That is a situation that Sharks supporters really don't want to happen, as Ashton looks to help Sale improve on last season's eighth-placed finish.

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Topics:
England Rugby
Aviva Premiership
Rugby Union
Rory Kockott
Danny Cipriani
Sale Sharks
Chris Ashton
Toulon

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