The winger is due to retire at the end of the season

Retiring Chris Ashton escaped a ban for his red card against Harlequins but was then left out of Leicester’s Premiership semi-final team to face Sale Sharks on Saturday.

Ashton was sent off against one off his old sides and could have had his career ended by the call as he is due to retire at the conclusion of the season but has been handed a reprieve after the disciplinary panel deemed his high tackle on Cadan Murley was only worthy of a yellow card.

The decision came on Thursday with Ashton admitting he had committed an act of foul play but disputing it warranted a red card. Murley testified in his defence by revealing the initial contact he felt was on his shoulder.

Ashton’s case was also boosted by additional camera angles that were previously unavailable. It means the 36-year-old former England was available to take to the field at the AJ Bell Stadium but Richard Wigglesworth has excluded him from his 23. However, Ashton could still finish his career at the Premiership final on Saturday 27 May if Leicester get there.

Read more:ย Chris Ashton first player to 100 Premiership tries

Panel chair Gareth Graham said: “Mr Ashton accepted committing an act of foul play that would have merited a yellow card.

“Having seen and heard all the evidence, including that of Mr Murley, who gave a clear account as to the point of contact and the level of force involved in the tackle, the panel agreed with the submission that this was a yellow-card offence.

โ€œIn arriving at that decision, the panel applied the Head Contact Process, as it was updated by World Rugby on 1 March 2023. This was an incident where there was some degree of head contact and where Mr Ashton accepted committing an act of foul play when he made a tackle that was too high.

“As required by the Head Contact Process, the panel then went on to consider what the degree of danger was in the tackle. Having assessed all the evidence before it, including that of Mr Murley (who told the panel that the initial contact was to his right shoulder, following which the tackle rode up to his neck area, but that any force to his neck was minimal), the panel concluded that there was indirect contact to the head and that any force to the head/neck was low.

โ€œConsequently, the panel concluded that there was not a high degree of danger and that the correct starting point under the Head Contact Process was a yellow card.โ€

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door with ourย subscription deals.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.