Will Greenwood reacts to Dylan Hartley's reckless challenge on Sean O'Brien

World Cup winner gives his take on incident which resulted in red card for England captain

Jerome Garces, Dylan Hartley, Northampton Saints,

Referee Jérôme Garcès red card Dylan Hartley of Northampton Saints ©INPHO/James Crombie

Rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood says no matter how you look at it, it's hard to stick up for Dylan Hartley in terms of the decision to show him a red card against Leinster.

The England captain was sent off six minutes after entering the field of play on Friday night as Northampton lost to Leinster by a 37-10 margin in the Champions Cup.

His dangerous and reckless tackle on Leinster and Ireland back row Sean O'Brien looks likely to add to a career total of 54 weeks in bans.

Will Greenwood at the opening ceremony ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Referee Jérôme Garcès showed no hesitation in handing the England captain his marching orders during the game and the reaction of England head coach Eddie Jones in the stands told its own story.

Greenwood, who was part of the England side that won the 2003 World Cup, told Sky Sports News, that this particular incident was indefensible as the challenge was made with a swinging arm.

"A swinging arm is a swinging arm. Now, do I genuinely believe that Hartley went to try and connect with Sean O'Brien's head? No. But did he go with a swinging arm which all rugby players know is with an intent to hurt and make a physical impact on the game? Then, yes he did," he said of the incident.

Greenwood's former England team-mate Lawrence Dallaglio had strong views on the incident. 

In 2015, Hartley was banned for four weeks after being found guilty of making contact with the head of Saracens hooker Jamie George.

In 2012, he received an eight week ban for biting former Ireland and Ulster back row Stephen Ferris during a Six Nations match.