Chris Ashton suffers fresh blow after his ban is extended... winger will not play again before Eddie Jones names England squad for Autumn fixtures
Chris Ashton’s England hopes suffered another blow on Thursday after the Sale wing’s suspension was extended until October 15.
Ashton, who negotiated an early release from a lucrative contract with French giants Toulon in order to return to the Premiership and make a late bid for a World Cup place this summer, was handed a seven-week ban for a tip-tackle on scrum-half Rory Kockett during a pre-season game against Castres last month.
Ashton was initially due to return to action on October 9 but it has now been moved to October 16 because his club included a friendly against Sale FC, which was subsequently cancelled, in the list of seven games he was due to miss.
The 31-year-old was hoping to play in Sale’s European Challenge Cup game against Perpignan on October 12 but that chance is now gone.
It means Ashton, who has scored 19 tries in 39 appearances for England, will not have played a game before Jones names his squad for the autumn series against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia on October 18.
‘Due to a change to Sale Sharks’ fixture list, Ashton’s suspension will now run until Monday 15 October,’ a Rugby Football Union statement read.
Dylan Hartley has been named on the bench again for Northampton ahead of Friday’s clash with Harlequins at Franklin’s Gardens. Quins and England veteran Mike Brown will miss the game with a minor wrist injury.
Meanwhile, England’s top clubs will continue to honour a long-term agreement with England over player release even if the league is bought out, Premiership chief Mark McCafferty has confirmed.
Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners have offered £275million for a 50 per cent share in the league. That is one of several options which will be discussed when the 12 Premierships clubs and London Irish gather at a special owner’s meeting next Tuesday.
Two years ago, the RFU and the Premiership agreed a £220 million deal until which 2024 which guarantees the national side access to players for additional training camps outside the regulation Test windows.
McCafferty confirmed any potential new deal with an investor would need to honour the terms of the deal, known as the Professional Game Agreement.
‘We are in a long-term with the RFU via the Professional Game Agreement,’ he said.