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.