Sale Sharks winger Chris Ashton has been dealt a severe blow to his chances of being called into England's squad for next year's World Cup after new footage emerged of the 31-year-old's sending off during a pre-season friendly match against Castres in France last week.
It was originally thought that Ashton had been sent off for punching French scrum-half Rory Kockott, but after reviewing the footage, it appears the winger picks up his opponent and then dumps him to the ground, for which match referee Romain Poite gave a straight red card - scroll down to see the video.
This kind of tackle is punished severely within the sport, meaning he could face a lengthy ban if the disciplinary panel he appears before uphold the charges handed out to him.
In a statement, the RFU said: "Ashton was shown a red card by referee Roman Poite in the 46th minute of the pre-season fixture between Castres Olympique and Sale Sharks on Friday 17 August 2018.
"This was for a tip tackle on Rory Kockott contrary to law 9.18 (a player must not lift an opponent off the ground and drop or drive that player so that their head and/or upper body make contact with the ground)."
Punishment for this kind of offence would usually mean a six-week ban, meaning Ashton would miss the start of the Premiership season with his new team, having joined Sale from Toulon in the summer.
Perhaps more worryingly for Ashton, he could also miss much of the Autumn internationals with England, which would put his World Cup hopes in jeopardy.
After returning to England from Toulon, Chris Ashton publicly stated that getting to the World Cup next year was one of the main reasons for this dramatic return.
The winger had worked his way back into Eddie Jones' plans and appeared in a pre-season training camp with the rest of the England squad earlier this month.
But should Ashton be found guilty of the illegal tackle, Jones may have to look elsewhere for the Autumn internationals which begin against South Africa on November 3rd, and should someone else step up during these internationals, Ashton may have to wave goodbye to his world cup dreams.
The hearing for Chris Ashton will take place in London on August 23 at 13:30, chaired by Richard Whittam QC, with Becky Essex and one other panel member to be confirmed.
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