James Horwill cleared to play in final test


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

20 thoughts on “James Horwill cleared to play in final test

  1. This has turned into a bit of a farce, and I still can’t quite believe that anyone can think it was ‘accidental’. A boost for the Wallabies, but hopefully the Lions can use it as motivation as well to make sure he doesn’t win the series.

  2. He is very lucky to get away with it but I’m personally pleased that he is free to play. No excuses are now available if the Aussies lose.

  3. In unrelated news, the IRB has just launched an appeal to request that a fireman’s carry counts as a line break.

    1. Hahaha, whilst the Wallabies continue working on their new set piece move ….. the tighthead flop.

      1. New set piece move? We’re still trying to find our fly half!

        Everytime we put a 10 jersey on him, he disappears.

        In fact, he stands so deep that if it was anyone other than James O’Connor, we’d think he was camera shy!

  4. Suspected nothing would come of it. Graham Mew is the QC that said Schalk Burger “made accidental contact with the eye area” of Luke Fitzgerald (accidental contact 2 knucles deep and raking) and proceeded to give him a 6 week ban – shorter than the minimum 8. Cueto got a 13 week ban (including mitigation) for putting a hand at someone’s face in a manner no different to a hand off.

    I know it looks bad on the IRB, but I think they very much responded to the fact that by the time you heard Horwill had been cited he’d also been cleared and I’m not sure they were happy the evidence was looked at properly. Now they’ve taken more time and deliberated it properly and found nothing I’m happier and they’re happier.

    I still disagree, I don’t think he’d naturally cross his right foot to the left hand side when he’s being pushed to the right, but let’s chalk this down to the inevitable Southern Hemisphere teams getting away with attempted murder at least once on a tour.

    1. Yeah, I don’t see how your momentum can be going from left to right, you can possibly regain you balance by moving your right leg left of your centre of gravity.

      I certainly wouldn’t be taking on Horwill in a game of twister, they should make a special edition for him, right boot to red head.

      Don’t expect the Lions will have been paying too much attention to something they have no control over.

      There must be a process issue that needs looking at, lots of dubious decisions from last year’s AIs and this year’s 6N. The inclusion of an ex F1 driver to support the stewards seems to have improved the quality of the decision making in that sport, I wonder if all of these IRB panels need a former pro player.

  5. It’s been an unwelcome distraction in what so far has been a cracking series.

    I’m glad it has been put to bed one way or the other.

  6. Yes he probably knew what he was doing, yes he should have got the week ban in the first place but i could see how an independent adjudicator could have ruled that he wasn’t looking at where his foot was going and was off balance.
    Having said that, when tackling dangerously there is only limited mitigation for intent or lack of so why wouldn’t it be the same for this incident? It’s up to the player doing the shoeing not to cause injury, or do something that could potentially cause injury, surely?!
    Whatever – he plays, we win, we forget. Please, please, let us win.

  7. Not surprised by the result as Mew was looking at the process and not the act.

    Still somewhat surprised that he was not punished – at the very least for reckless use of the boot

    Given this is the third time this year that Horwill has been accused of stamping, he’ll probably make sure his play is whiter than white from now on.

    BTW – if you want a laugh, check out some of the comments on Green and Gold Rugby. My favourites are the Bok supporter who claims the IRB is biased against South Africa and basically anything on this page where the paranoia is stifling – http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/mondays-rugby-news-12/

    “this is an obvious ploy to distract the team and possibly rob us of our leader.. Spearheaded by the Lions themselves.”

    1. The Bok fan was funny, but what about the chap who keeps referring to his wife’s opinions on Horwill and Genia??

    1. Yup, Farrell should have been cited for that.

      My initial reaction is that its careless rather than malicious but that may just be my ingrained bias towards the Lions.

  8. It’s a bad incident Cramps and I could easily have taken Farrell being cited for it. Not sure I actually remember any of that which is weird. The response of the Australian press and fans with #justiceforHorwill and the whole paranoia thing makes me laugh. While we’re “whinging poms”, the South Africans and Australians and Kiwis are regularly complaining in the press about how they’re being unfairly treated for blatant acts of foul play.

    1. If Horwill had been banned after the first IRB inquiry, it would have largely been considered in the same vein as Warburton’s tackle in the RWC. ie a judicial decision that went against the player.

      But it’s the IRB’s decision to open up their own inquiry that has annoyed Wallaby supporters. It’s never happened before and the IRB hasn’t really explained itself. Surely the IRB should explain why they’ve asked for a second opinion? They’ve never had to in the past.

      Anyway, case closed.

      1. Did they not interfere with the decision on Adam Thompson a while back?

        I think that this is such a showpiece tour for rugby world-wide and the dis-belief that he got off so prevalent that they thought they had to act

        When you add in that the last few Lions tours have been notorious for acts of foul play (Grey, Umaga, Burger) then its even less surprising that they felt it necessary to act

        1. They did step in, but that in reaction to a lenient 1 week ban. So a little different to appealing against a ‘not guilty’

  9. I really couldn’t give a monkeys about this pathetic incident . Rugby should’ve have been a tough sport for tough blokes . All these medias and people whining and moaning are making rugby looking and sound bloody soft . The only thing is we pick players from four different six nations representative to try beat a pretty average wallabies team and we still couldn’t succeed is beyond me . We were lucky to have won the first time because they played better and missed a few conversions and penalties . We didn’t even manage to cross their bleeding line in the second test . People can still remain optimistic but my money is on the wallabies to win this Saturday .

    1. Your comments are outrageous, rugby is indeed a ‘ tough sport for tough blokes’ but I think anyone with any level of sanity would believe that having an 18 stone bloke deliberately stamp on a fellow players head goes beyond the pale …. & don’t start with the ‘not guilty’ verdict, even the most myopic Aussie supporter can see what occurred .


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