Australia captain James Horwill has been cleared to play for Australia in the series-deciding final test against the Lions on Saturday. The IRB’s appeal for his alleged stamp on Alun-Wyn Jones, overseen by independent appeal officer Graeme Mew, was not upheld, meaning the original decision to let Horwill off stands.
“There was sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable judicial officer could have reached the decision that was made,” Mew said. “Accordingly it could not be said that the judicial officer was manifestly wrong or that the interests of justice otherwise required his decision be overturned.”
“For the appeal to succeed the IRB would have to establish that there was some misapprehension of law or principle by the judicial officer or that his decision was so clearly wrong or manifestly unreasonable that no judicial officer could have reached the conclusion that he did,” Mew added.
Horwill had been cited but then cleared of bringing his foot down on Alun-Wyn Jones’ face in the first test. The Wales lock required stitches to a wound above his eye, and the decision to exonerate him was widely condemned. Last week it was announced that the IRB would appeal the decision, meaning Horwill was likely to miss the final test.
Horwill and the ARU bemoaned the IRB’s decision to reopen the case, but will now be relieved that the verdict has been upheld.
“I’ve played 130 professional rugby games and have never been cited once, never attending any judicial hearing,” Horwill said. “I had no intent and it was a complete accident and unfortunately accidents happen in rugby. It’s a contact sport.”
What do you make of the decision not to ban Horwill? Has he got away with it, especially in a week when we have seen a lengthy ban handed out to a coach for bad language?
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images