Dylan Hartley will find out today whether he will miss the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia after being sent off for dissent during Northampton’s Aviva Premiership final defeat against Leicester at Twickenham.
The Saints captain was dismissed for allegedly calling referee Wayne Barnes a “f****** cheat” shortly before the interval in Leicester’s 37-17 victory at Twickenham.
On Saturday night the Rugby Football Union announced they would hold a disciplinary hearing into the allegation this morning.
A statement released by the RFU read: “Hartley was sent off for alleged verbal abuse of a match official contrary to Law 10(4)(s) in the Aviva Premiership final against Leicester Tigers at Twickenham Stadium.
“The case will be heard by a panel chaired by His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett and the result released electronically following its conclusion.”
The minimum ban for swearing at officials is six weeks but Hartley has insisted, via Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder, that his comments were aimed at Leicester hooker Tom Youngs.
A Lions spokesman said: “Warren Gatland has always indicated that these players (competing in Premiership and PRO12 finals) would not play in the first match against the Barbarians but they would have to be available for the second match of the tour.
“That is the criteria for Hartley coming on tour. If he gets a suspension that prevents him from making that second game then that is where we are.”
Ireland hooker Rory Best would be favourite to replace Hartley in the Lions squad, should that situation occur.
Northampton coach Jim Mallinder said Hartley’s version of events was backed up by a number of other senior players.
“I asked Dylan at half-time and I’ve just asked him again ‘what happened? What did you say?’ He said he was talking to Tom Youngs.
“If you talk like that to a player I wouldn’t expect anything to happen. Clearly, Wayne Barnes has believed Dylan has spoken to him.
“I support Dylan. He is my captain. If he says he wasn’t speaking to the referee and he was speaking to a player on the floor I can only support what he says.”
Mallinder continued: “We will support Dylan. He said that a number of senior players that were around the ball agreed with Dylan that he was looking down and speaking to Tom Youngs.”