England rugby captain Dylan Hartley may have seen his chances of leading the Lions to New Zealand next summer go up in smoke at Franklin’s Gardens last night.
Hartley had only entered the fray six minutes before picking up a red card during Northampton Saints’ 37-10 home defeat to Leinster in the Champions Cup.
The hooker was sent off in the 58th minute for what can only be described as a dangerous swinging arm on Leinster’s Sean O’Brien, who was in a prone position.
After seeing the TMO replay referee Jerome Garces had little option but to send Hartley from the field, and BT Sport analyst Brian O’Driscoll branded the act “stupid” in the commentary box.
Anyone actually questioning the Hartley red card look at his reaction to it. Not a murmur of complaint from him. He knew what was coming.
— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) December 10, 2016
Having hoped to prove his credentials as a reformed character after being named England captain by head coach Eddie Jones in January, this incident adds to an ever growing list of misdemeanors.
The 30-year-old has spent 54 weeks of his career suspended – Eric Cantona eat your heart out – with a rap sheet including biting, eye-gouging, headbutting and swearing at ref Wayne Barnes in the Premiership final.
While you can probably expect the hooker to be on the plane for the 2017 tour to face the All-Blacks (if he’s not banned again of course), last night’s sending off will most likely end any hope he had of being captain of the Lions.
With England kicking-off their Six Nations campaign against France in eight weeks time, Hartley is also now in danger of missing that as a lengthy suspension is probably in order – not helped by his terrible disciplinary record.
The incident doesn’t get any easier to watch no matter how many times you see it, but you can view it for yourself below: