Lions Tour 2013: Stamp ban storm hits Wallabies' Test hopes

IRB appeals James Horwill 'let-off' and replaces Kiwi hearing judge with British-Canadian

Melbourne

The Wallaby captain James Horwill will definitely face the British and Irish Lions in Saturday's mighty set-to at the Docklands Stadium, but his chances of seeing out the series are now dangerously slim. The International Rugby Board, deeply perturbed by the decision to clear the Queensland lock of a stamping charge arising from last weekend's Test in Brisbane, has appealed against the finding, much to the fury of the Australian hierarchy.

Horwill will find himself back before the bench next week, but Nigel Hampton QC, the independent judicial officer from New Zealand who originally cleared him, has been replaced by the lawyer Graeme Mew, who holds Canadian and British passports and practises in London as well as in Toronto. If the not guilty verdict is reversed, Horwill will miss the Sydney Test. Bill Pulver, the chief executive of the home union, said the board's "unprecedented step" had the potential to disrupt the Wallabies in the lead-up to a game they must win to stay in the three-match series.

"While we respect the right of the IRB to intervene, we also respect the knowledge of appointed – and independent – judicial officers," he said. "James Horwill was cleared as per the established process. We are surprised and disappointed that the finding is now not only under question, but deemed erroneous."

Horwill was cited for stamping on the head of his rival lock, Alun Wyn Jones, in the first Test – Jones needed stitches near his eye – and video footage did not show the incident in a good light. Yet Hampton gave the Wallaby the benefit of the doubt, accepting the player's claim that he was off-balance and there was no foul play.

The Lions, who had brought the incident to the attention of the authorities, were hardly shell-shocked by the decision: there is a long and inglorious southern hemisphere tradition of leniency in such cases. The new element is the IRB's reaction. In a statement, the governing body stressed its commitment to player welfare and said it felt "compelled to further examine potential foul play".

The Wallaby coach, Robbie Deans, said he was "satisfied with the process" and felt the acquittal to be "just and fair". It seems some very important people disagree.

Meanwhile, Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor, two-thirds of Australian rugby's "terrible trio", may not have breached any team protocols by visiting a Melbourne fast-food joint at a time far closer to breakfast than supper, but there was certainly a breach of trust. This became clear when Deans and the centre, Adam Ashley-Cooper, delivered their verdicts.

"Obviously, it wasn't an ideal hour to be out," said Deans, who, like the rest of the world, knew nothing of the escapade until the pair were photographed by a Lions supporter at around 4am on Wednesday morning. "We've had a conversation, for sure, and it wasn't a comfortable conversation. I understand they wanted to catch up with their Rebels club-mates after the midweek game against the Lions. They now understand that it was too late for them to be getting to bed."

 



Deans managed to maintain a neutral expression, but he is no Laurence Olivier: he was clearly fuming. It was equally evident that Ashley-Cooper was less than impressed.

"We're too far into our preparation for the second Test to let this be a distraction," he said frostily, "so it's been something for the management to deal with. The senior players can address it post-series."

Both Beale and O'Connor will start Saturday's game – which the Wallabies must win if they are to take the Lions to a decider. Beale, who came off the bench in Brisbane to make some telling contributions before handing the tourists victory with two late penalty misses, will play at full-back in place of the concussed Berrick Barnes. O'Connor will again feature at outside-half.

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine