Rugby Union: Healey apologises for stamping

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The Independent Online
AUSTIN HEALEY, the Leicester scrum-half issued a fulsome public apology last night for the stamping incident during the Allied Dunbar Premiership match against London Irish last weekend when his opposite number Kevin Putt suffered a head injury requiring stitches, writes David Llewellyn.

Healey was cited by the Exiles, Leicester have banned him for 21 days and the England player faces the possibility of an extension to that ban if the Rugby Football Union decide that the club punishment is insufficient.

As it is he will miss England's two opening Five Nations matches against Scotland and Ireland and Leicester's Tetley's Bitter Cup quarter-final tie at Richmond next week.

Healey said yesterday: "Further to the hearing of the Leicester disciplinary committee I would like to express my deep regret at the incident. I wish to state that there was no malice or intent in my actions and I certainly did not wish to cause Kevin any injury. The moment I realised what had happened I apologised to Kevin immediately.

"The TV evidence shows the incident in a bad light and does not portray what I truly believe to be an accident. I accept the findings of the Leicester committee and whilst it is very disappointing to be excluded from key Leicester and England games, I appreciate that I could perhaps have taken a better option in the moments immediately prior to the incident.

"I deeply regret the incident, but would like to say that I would never intentionally stand on anybody's face."

The Newcastle takeover saga has taken a further twist with the news that David Campbell, the former Falcons director, has tabled a bid for Sir John Hall's 76 per cent share-holding, on behalf of a consortium of Tyneside businessmen. The Shareholders' Association, who have the remaining 24 per cent now have 30 days in which to match Campbell's bid, but that may be cut to 1 March.

That is the date the Newcastle directors Freddie Shepherd and Douglas Hall, son of Sir John, are believed to have told the Association that they will end their funding of the club unless a new deal has been signed.

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