Ashton: ‘I’ll be back’

Date published: September 27 2016

Chris Ashton has vowed to regain his place in the Saracens team and England squad after receiving a 13-week ban for biting.

Ashton is serving his second lengthy ban of the year, this time for acts contrary to good sportsmanship after an independent RFU disciplinary panel suspended him for biting an opponent.

While Ashton maintained his innocence in a statement on Tuesday he said he accepted his punishment.

"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," he said.

"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% 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."