Ashton vows to regain Sarries and England spots


Chris Ashton has vowed to regain his place in the Saracens team and the England squad after being banned for 13 weeks for biting Northampton Saints prop Alex Waller.

Ashton received the suspension following a lengthy hearing last Tuesday as he was found guilty on one of two counts of biting during Sarries' 27-12 Premiership win over Northampton the previous Saturday.

It marks the former rugby league player's second significant ban of 2016 after being handed a 10-week suspension back in January for making contact with the eyes of Ulster's Luke Marshall.

But, in a statement released on the Saracens official website, Ashton said: "It would be an understatement to say I was disappointed last week to be handed a 13-week ban by the RFU, my second significant ban of 2016.

"I told the disciplinary panel that I did not bite the Northampton prop, just as I had told the panel in January that I did not make contact with the eyes of the Ulster centre.

"Both panels chose to accept the opposing version of events. I did not agree with either verdict but I must and do accept the sanctions.

"There is no place for biting or gouging in rugby, and World Rugby are 100 per cent correct in seeking to eradicate these actions. 

"Rugby is a physical sport but it is also a fair sport; that is the way I have always played the game, and that is how I will continue to play the game.

"I would like to thank publicly Saracens for their support during these times, and I am wholly committed to repaying the faith of Nigel Wray, our chairman, and Mark McCall, our director of rugby, and all the other coaches, players and staff of this special organisation.

"My clear ambition is first to regain my place in the Saracens team and then to regain my place in the England side. It may seem a long journey back from the despair of last week's judgement but I will do everything in my power to get back to where, in my heart, I feel I belong."