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Hartley banned for six weeks following Leinster red

The England captain lasted just six minutes off the bench Credit: PA Images

Northampton Saints forward Dylan Hartley has been banned for six weeks following his sending off during their defeat against Leinster in the European Rugby Champions Cup at Franklin's Gardens.

The England captain lasted just six minutes off the bench after he was red-carded for a swinging arm tackle on Leinster's Sean O'Brien.

Prior to this Hartley had already served a total of 54 weeks suspension, the longest being 26 weeks for eye-gouging. His punishments also cost him the chance to play with the British Lions in 2013, and for England in last year's Rugby World Cup.

The six-week ban means Hartley will be able to start in England's Six Nations opener against France at Twickenham on February 4.

Dylan Hartley to learn red card fate on Wednesday

Dylan Hartley will learn on Wednesday if he will be available to lead England into the RBS Six Nations Credit: PA

Northampton Saints forward Dylan Hartley will find out on Wednesday if he'll be able to lead England into the Six Nations.

The England captain lasted just six minutes off the bench after he was red-carded in the Saints' 37-10 defeat to Leinster on Friday in the European Rugby Champions Cup at Franklin's Gardens.

The dismissal capped a miserable night for Saints fans who are genuinely concerned about the club's ill discipline on the field and poor form.

A suspension of eight weeks or more would rule him out of the Six Nations opener against France at Twickenham on February 4.

Hartley will appear before an independent hearing to discover the length of the ban.

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Make or break for Northampton Saints

Franklin's Gardens. Credit: Press Association.

The pressure is on Northampton Saints with the next two games set to make or break their season.

A week tomorrow they have to beat fierce rivals Leicester to keep their Premiership campaign alive.

But first it is win or bust in the Quarter Finals of the European Champions Cup.

Donovan Blake looks ahead to their contest with the Premiership leaders.

England rugby squad named: No place for Tom Youngs

Dylan Hartley is widely tipped to be England captain despite his disciplinary problems. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Four players have the Anglia region have been named in new coach Eddie Jones' first 33-man England squad.

Dylan Hartley, Paul Hill and Courtney Lawes of Northampton Saints and Norfolk's Ben Youngs of Leicester Tigers are in the squad.

No captain named at this stage but Dylan Hartley is widely tipped despite his disciplinary problems. The Northampton hooker, 29, was dropped from the World Cup squad after a series of disciplinary breaches.

Norfolk's Tom Youngs have been left out of the England rugby squad named by Eddie Jones. Credit: Nigel French/PA Archive/PA Images

The notable omissions from the squad is Ben's brother Tom Youngs, the Leicester hooker who has been dropped and Northampton Saints' Tom Wood.

England head coach Eddie Jones says he has "chosen a lot of new players on the growth we see in them".

"The long-term strategy for England is to develop a side who can be the most dominant team in world rugby. Jones says "the door is not shut for anyone" after naming his first squad.

“I have spoken to some of the players who have not been selected," he said. "Naturally they will be disappointed and that is how it should be. They know what they need to do to get back into this squad.

"There is no such thing as a shut door because of injuries and loss of form. There will always be opportunities to anyone playing consistently well in the Premiership and Europe.”

– Eddie Jones, England Head Coach

The squad will meet at Pennyhill Park on 24 January to prepare for their opening Six Nations match against Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday 6 February.

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Bristol star snapped up by Saints

New Northampton signing Tom Kessell Credit: CornishPirates.com

Northampton Saints have announced the signing of former Cornish Pirates scrum-half Tom Kessell.

The 25-year-old will join Saints in time for next season after completing a short-term stint with the Pirates' Championship rivals Bristol.

Kessell was part of the Championship XV that beat Canada earlier this season, while he has also represented England Counties.

Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder said:

"Tom has shown great promise in the Championship, and has had his performances recognised with selection for the team that played Canada last year.

We believe that he has the potential to perform in the Aviva Premiership and in Europe, and we are looking forward to seeing him develop at Franklin's Gardens."

– Jim Mallinder, Northampton Saints

Saints captain Hartley banned for 3 weeks

The Rugby Football Union has handed Northampton Saints captain Dylan Hartley a three week suspension for an elbow thrown at an opponent during the weekend's clash with Leicester Tigers.

Hartley leaves the field after Saturday's red card Credit: PA

Hartley was sent off in the Aviva Premiership match between Saints and Leicester Tigers for striking Matt Smith with his elbow. The Northampton Saints hooker pleaded guilty and the case was heard via conference call by Jeremy Summers, sitting as a sole Judicial Officer.

“The sanction reflects the low end entry point of the offence, which carries a two-week tariff. The entry point was aggravated having regard to Dylan’s previous record and a week was taken off to reflect mitigating circumstances. As such the sanction reflects the player’s record rather than the seriousness of the offence itself.”

– Jeremy Summers, RFU

Hartley is banned until January 11, 2015. The decision means he wil miss Saints' next three Premiership matches, but will be available for England selection for the start of the Six Nations Championship in February.

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