Chris Ashton likes the fact that his life has been a series of “highs and lows” as Leicester revealed that they would appeal against the red card that the wing received in the Premiership loss to Harlequins last Saturday.
Ashton, who will retire from professional rugby at the end of the season as the most prolific try-scorer in Premiership history, was sent off by referee Ian Tempest for a shoulder to the head of Harlequins wing Cadan Murley just before half-time at Welford Road last weekend.
Straight after the match, Richard Wigglesworth, Leicester’s interim head coach, said the club would appeal if they thought they had a realistic chance of overturning the decision in time for their Premiership semi-final at Sale on Sunday. On Tuesday, Wigglesworth confirmed that he believed it warranted a yellow card, giving Ashton hope of another Tigers appearance.
“When we get the date of the hearing, which I would have thought would be Wednesday we will contest it,” Wigglesworth said. “It will be this week and if we get it turned around he will be available. The slipping and the dipping [of Murley]there were mitigating factors in the tackle and the mitigating factors are why we think it is a yellow and not a red.
“I know [referees] have a difficult job – we just want everything to be clear and obvious. If it is a high level of force and danger then the red card is there to protect players.
Regarding decisions being overturned after the event when it is too late – rather than the correct call being made during a match – Wigglesworth added: “They have got to get it right. That is their job. We have got to get our tactics right, the players have got to get themselves right and they have got to get those decisions right.”
Speaking to the Rugby Union Weekly podcast on Tuesday, Ashton said he obviously did not wish to be sent off “in any shape or form” but that he “struggled with the positivity” of his retirement week.
“I’ve had this since I was a child,” Ashton, 36, said. “No matter what it is, I’ve had this way…. high, low, never happy in the middle. It’s never intentional but it’s just the way my life is.
“Do I like it like that? I’ve asked myself that many times; I’ve had to because I’ve ended up in this situation a lot. I’m not saying it’s a good or bad thing, but I think I actually do. I struggled with the positivity of my retirement week. I did not want a red card in any shape or form but it seems like one action always seems to generate another with me. I had all my family down for the game. And they saw me walk off after half an hour – I think I touched the ball twice.
“What was amazing… I’ve only been at Leicester for a short period of time. I couldn’t believe when Ian showed me the red card – you just want to curl up and disappear – but everyone [in the crowd] stood up and clapped. I didn’t know how to react. I felt like I owed it to them [to clap back]. I’m very grateful.”