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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Wallaby skipper James Horwill cleared and free to play in deciding Lions Test

Wallaby skipper James Horwill has been cleared after an appeal from the IRB against the decision that found that he did not intentionally stamp on Lions lock Alun-Wyn Jones. Horwill has said that he feels vindicated following the lengthy legal process.

Horwill was originally exonerated by judicial officer Nigel Hampton after being cited for stamping in the opening 23-21 loss to the Lions in Brisbane. Despite a lengthy hearing and up to nine different camera angles being used to reach the not guilty verdict, the IRB appealed the decision.

Yesterday another hearing took place, this time with Independent Appeal Officer Graeme Mew.

He noted that for the IRB appeal to succeed he would have had to establish that there was a misapprehension of law by Hampton, or a manifestly unreasonable decision.

"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 (he) was manifestly wrong or that the interests of justice otherwise required his decision be overturned."

Mew also stated the IRB appeal had been properly taken as part of its responsibilities to protect the image of the game and ensure player welfare.

Horwill will be free to play in the deciding third Test, and said he feels vindicated by the result.

"It's huge. I love what I do and it means a hell of a lot to me to represent my country and not only to represent it but to lead it in what is arguably the biggest game in this country since the Rugby World Cup final in 2003," the 37 times capped Wallaby said.

"I'm excited at that opportunity and now we can focus on the game, which is important. I feel very vindicated by the way it's gone.

The Wallabies host the Lions in the final Test in Sydney on Saturday at 20:00 (10:00 GMT)

The guys at RugbyHQ in Australia, never shy to stir things up with Lions fans, had a #JusticeForHorwill hashtag running on Twitter before the verdict was announced. It fueled the 'banter', some of which was even directed Rugbydump's way for some reason, so here is their follow up, with Sean Maloney reading one of the lovely tweets we received.

Posted by Rugbydump at 10:34 am | View Comments (23)

Posted in British & Irish Lions 2013

Viewing 23 comments

ollie July 02, 2013 12:33 pm

This is not a good message to send out. Raises an interesting question as to how intent does not count in the ruling on spear tackles (for example) but apparently is everything when it comes to standing on heads... Both can result in serious injury, so what is the difference...?

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mj July 02, 2013 12:46 pm

I assume everyone who has/is about to comment has read both verdicts in full.....

1st - http://www.irb.com/mm/document/tournament/home/02/06/80/23/horwill-decision.pdf

summary - I can't rule out the possibility it was an accident as per JH's account

2nd - http://www.irb.com/mm/document/tournament/home/02/06/84/12/jameshorwill-decisiononappeal.pdf

summary - its not my job to decide if i think the 1st JO got it wrong (even if I think he did). My job is to determine if it wasn't reasonable for him to come to that judgement however close it gets to pushing what is deemed reasonable

Overall - It appears the the second JO would have found him guilty but did have the remit to change the decision

Suggestion - Perhaps the IRB could have 3 JO's on the panel who come to a majority verdict

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Park July 02, 2013 2:35 pm

While I applaud you for posting the rulings I suggest you also quote from them to support your positions. Ruling 1

"I concluded that there was, and is, a reasonably plausible explanation for this incident
which I could not reject, with such explanation having inherent in it the view that the
contact at issue here was both unintentional and inadvertent, an accidental contact and one
not as a result of recklessness on the part of the Player.
6.2 As a consequence, I could not find proven, on the balance of probabilities, that the foul
play alleged in the Citing Complaint, the stamping or trampling, had been committed by the
Player and I determined that the Citing Complaint should not be upheld."

So he actually can rule out the probability that it was foul play.

And for ruling 2:

"It is not for me as to say on an appellate review which is based exclusively on
the evidentiary record before the JO, whether the view of that evidence taken by the
JO was more, less, or equally plausible to that put forward by the IRB. Rather,
having concluded that the JO did not make an error of principle or law, the question
is whether his exercise of judgment in relation to the evidence and his findings of fact
were manifestly wrong.
65. Having reviewed all of the evidence available to the JO and having
endeavoured to apply the Laws as I understand them, I have concluded that there
was sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable judicial officer could have reached
the decision that the JO came to in this case. It follows that I am not persuaded that
the JO was manifestly wrong or that the interests of justice otherwise require that I
overturn his decision. "

The 2nd JO goes to great length to say he is not retrying the case but reviewing the basis of the first decision. On which he says the first JO is manifestly not wrong. So it is his job to decide if the 1st JO got it wrong. He did decide that he wasn't wrong.

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mj July 02, 2013 4:22 pm

Park - While I applaud reading the rulings perhaps you have misinterpreted what I meant (or I concede I may have not explained well enough)

I will quote from the 2nd to support my position

49. 'Does this mean that the JO’s conclusions must be rejected if I conclude that
the IRB’s theory is as plausible, or even more plausible, than the version advocated by the Player and, essentially, accepted by the JO?

50. The answer to that rhetorical question is that the JO’s decision should be
overturned only if the JO made an error of principle (i.e. law) or if his findings were such that no reasonable JO could have concluded as he did on the evidence available to him.

My first post was 'its not my job to decide if i think the 1st JO got it wrong'

i.e. he could come to the decision based on the evidence that if he was the first JO he would have upheld the citing as evidenced by point 49. Point 50 then demonstrates that for him to overturn the decision it has to be so obvious that the first JO got it wrong there is no way he could have reasonably come to the judgement he came to.

So whereas you would be correct in saying 'So it is his job to decide if the 1st JO got it wrong,' he didn't offer any opinion as to whether he though the first JO was wrong, just that he wasn't wrong enough for the decision to be overturned.

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Benny July 02, 2013 4:22 pm

Even better than a panel, what about a jury of his peers? Oh and we could get a different celebrity each week on as the judge (do you think Mr T is available?), film it, and make it into a reality show so we have something rugby-related to watch during the week.

Sorry, not a very useful contribution, I got a bit carried away :)

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Chizzy July 02, 2013 1:23 pm

He should have been given the ban it was reckless and clearly visible on the replay, what if it was a lions player that had done that would have been a different outcome. Anyway moaning aside come on lads bring home the test series for the first time since 97. The wallabies will loose just like Ivan Drago lost to Rocky Balboa.

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Guy July 02, 2013 2:48 pm

From a neutral perspective I keep finding is strange that 'making contact with the eye or eye-area' aka 'eye-gouging' is deemed severly punishable whereas making contact to the same area with the boot is not.

Well, I guess justice has been done. It will be a cracker of a game next weekend.

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Ruggernut July 02, 2013 3:16 pm

Seems to me that if the IRB appealed the decision, then there was clearly something wrong what with them being the rule makers and all. But ah well, nothing we can do and no point dwelling. Plus I like Horwill as a player and doubt there was any malice in it.

Let's just bring on the third test and hope tis a cracker!

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Chip July 02, 2013 4:19 pm

You can't punish the guy for accidentally standing on someones head where he would reasonably not expect a head to be. As in on the wrong side of a ruck.

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Calon Lan July 02, 2013 7:42 pm

You can, irrelevant of the position of the head he stamped on it's the responsibility of the person in control of the feet to ensure they don't stand on it.

It's much the same with lifting somebody when you tackle them, irrelevant of whether you meant for their feet to leave the ground it's the responsibility of the tackler to ensure they land safely.

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Jon July 03, 2013 3:14 am

Calon Lan, no you're wrong.
They don 't punish you for standing on a guys head by accident.
Obviously. Or Horwill would have been banned.
Two different independent judges, a Kiwi and an English born Canadian have both ruled that Horwill couldn't have seen Jones, because there were several bodies blocking Horwill's view. They ruled that he had no way of knowing where Jones' was lying and have agreed that Horwill didn't even know he'd done it at the time.
The fact that Horwill has never been banned once for foul play probably helped with the idea that Horwill didn't do it on purpose since it would be out of character.

So they let him off.

Also, am I correct in saying that Jones got up, and played the rest of the game?
Did he even get treatment at the time?

I ask because, in the old days, the 70s and 80s, this act would have been normal and what happened whenever you ended up lying around at the opposite side of the ruck.
I guess this reaction to what happened to Jones is why rucking got banned in the first place.

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Frenchie July 02, 2013 4:59 pm

Not to complain, though for an alleged eye gauging, not even caught by the ref nor by any of the cameras around the field, French prop took 52 weeks.... I guess it helps to be Australian!

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kadova July 06, 2013 9:28 pm

What happened with that french player is this happened straight after the only-6-weeks ban for the same ofence by a foreign player (South Africa?) so they decided to "make an example". If you see what i mean.

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EatMyRugbyShorts July 02, 2013 5:58 pm

That appeal document seems to contain something for everyone - supporting whatever view they had prior to the appeal.

After reading both documents my take is that the contact of Horwill's boot with Wynn Jones's face could be defined as intentional, reckless or accidental.

In the initial hearing the Judicial Officer considered whether an intentional act of foul play (stamping) had occurred - and based on the video evidence he decided that it hadn't. In the appeal hearing the IRB Officer concluded there were no grounds to overturn the original outcome but Horwill (or a player in a similar position) should have been aware of where Wynn Jones was on the ground even if he was unsighted, hence his actions were reckless.

Looking at the video again does Horwill know where Wynn Jones is positioned? Should he have known? Would the citing decision have been different if it were for 'Reckless Use of the Boot'? Anyone's guess really - the whole incident only lasts 3-4 seconds.

To me it still doesn't look 'intentional' but I now can't decide if the contact is 'reckless' or 'accidental'. Wynn Jones goes to ground after Horwill's got his head down pushing in the ruck so I'd be inclined to say its closer to accidental than reckless but its open to opinion.

I suppose due to the wide publicity players will be more careful from now on placing their feet which was probably the whole point of the IRB appeal in the first place as this incident could have resulted in a serious eye injury.

Changing the subject - bring on the decider!!

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Eddie-g July 02, 2013 9:03 pm

Disagreed with the initial decision, it was certainly reckless enough IMO to warrant a ban, but the decision was at least coherently spelled out. The IRB decision to appeal it however was completely absurd.

The incident happens, the Citing Officer does his job, the Judicial Officer does his, and surely the IRB at this point should back the process, not interfere with it. They should replace COs and JOs who are no good at their job, but they should at least support the process they have in place. What they have done here through instigating the appeal themselves is further undermine a process that few people have faith in already. It really makes no sense.

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browner July 02, 2013 10:16 pm


Every player who now stamps on the face of another will plead the Horwill defence,

I didn't know his head was there, & I was unbalanced by something ......... prove these statements wrong !

I wonder how many seriously injured players will look back on this 'landmark' case & curse !!

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DrG July 03, 2013 12:23 pm

Yes, I agree with the zzzzzzzz your comments do get a bit stale and boring when it comes to these types of incidents...

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Jon July 03, 2013 3:07 am

Rumors are that the IRB will refer him to the International Court of criminal Justice for a third and damning trial.
If that doesn't work, they are going to try him the old fashioned way - angry mob justice!
There's no justice like angry mob justice!
The fans of the British and Irish Lions will have pitchforks and torches distributed amongst them, and the IRB will also provide refreshments.

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DrG July 03, 2013 12:26 pm

Interesting... although mates of mine that are Lions fans don't really care about this incident... it happened, looked dubious, decision was made and thats where it should have been left.

Bringing it back up with the appeal, the comments made by "fans" on here etc, are all so damn overboard it's tiresome.

Was Horwill not getting banned the biggest rugby travesty in history? Nope, but BOD being omitted was! lol...

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PiratesRugby July 03, 2013 4:36 am

I guess we will wait in vain for the outcry over Owen Farrell's stamp on Ben Lucas in the Lions v Reds game. Ben Lucas need to have 50 stitches and his ear re-attached. Owen Farrell could see where he was putting his feet.


I have enjoyed the company of Lions fans in Melbourne. The booing of Horwill was disappointing.

View Video

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TotesMcGoates July 03, 2013 9:26 am

Didn't hear about that one. Google wasn't forthcoming with any info either. It really puts this incident into perspective.

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DrG July 03, 2013 12:30 pm

Bloody hell!!!! I'm with Totes on this one. Never heard anything about this.

Thanks for bringing this to light, hopefully RD might make a video out of it. I've never been a fan of Farrell, seems dirtier than he lets on, whether this was actually intentional or not is another matter, but it was certainly reckless!

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EatMyRugbyShorts July 05, 2013 10:49 pm

Watched the game - wasn't highlighted at the time. Got to agree with the above - what was Farrell doing? Paul O'Connell has just dived on the ball so why is Farrell walking through players lying on the ground nowhere near the ball? Surely that's worth a citing.

Additionally agreed - if any RD staff are reading would be good to have this vid as a separate post.

Also must mention that Adam Jones is incorrectly accused in the commentary.

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