Australia 21-23 British & Irish Lions, Brisbane
Horwill cleared of stamping on Jones
ESPN Staff
June 23, 2013
James Horwill can lead the Wallabies in Melbourne

Wallabies skipper James Horwill has been found not guilty of stamping on British & Irish Lions lock Alun-Wyn Jones during their first Test clash in Brisbane on Saturday.

Judiciary system fails Lions - again

  • In a great escape to rival any produced by Houdini, Wallabies skipper James Horwill has somehow managed to avoid punishment for his blatant use of the boot on Lions rival Alun-Wyn Jones.
  • Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton's ruling that Horwill's actions were not reckless is quite clearly wrong and almost as alarming as the player's brutal act in the opening moments of what was an otherwise thrilling encounter.
  • The suggestion he was trying to regain his balance is laughable - who does that by crossing their legs? - but this is no joke for the Lions or Jones who required stitches in his eye.
  • Sadly, this is just the latest example of the southern hemisphere judiciary system failing the Lions. Remember the cheap shot by Australia's Nathan Grey on Lions flanker Richard Hill in 2001? The tip-tackle on Lions centre Brian O'Driscoll by New Zealand's Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu?
  • Both of those incidents resulted in serious tour-ending injuries but no punishments followed. This jaw-dropping verdict now sits alongside those unsavoury incidents in an unflattering hall of shame.
  • Graham Jenkins

Horwill was cited in the wake of his side's 23-21 defeat at the Suncorp Stadium after it was alleged that the second row stamped or trampled on his Lions rival in the third minute of the game.

In handing down his decision, Judicial Officer, Nigel Hampton QC found that on the balance of probabilities he could not find an intentional or deliberate action of stamping or trampling.

"After hearing all the evidence I could not find that when James Horwill's right foot came into glancing contact with Alun-Wyn Jones' face, that he Horwill was acting recklessly," Hampton said.

"I found that I could not reject as being implausible or improbable Horwill's explanation that as he was driving forward with his right leg raised he was spun off balance through the impact of Lions players entering the ruck from the opposite side.

"In an endeavour to regain his balance Horwill brought his right leg to the ground unknowing that Alun-Wyn Jones' head was in that area, due to having his sight impeded by the presence of Michael Hooper and Tom Croft who were beneath him and over the top of Alun-Wyn Jones. Due to these reasons I cannot uphold the citing."

The verdict, which took almost four hours, is sure to infuriate the Lions who referred the incident to the citing officer having reviewed footage of the incident. Jones needed stitches in an eye injury suffered as a result of the incident but is not expected to miss Saturday's second Test clash in Melbourne.

Horwill is now clear to lead the Wallabies into that game in a timely boost for coach Robbie Deans who saw his side ravaged by injuries at the weekend. Centres Christian Lealiifano (concussion), Pat McCabe (neck) and Adam Ashley-Cooper (shoulder), fullback Berrick Barnes (jaw) and winger Digby Ioane (shoulder) are all under an injury cloud following a bruising battle.

With so many players in the treatment room, coach Robbie Deans has reinforced his squad with the addition of flanker George Smith, fullback Jesse Mogg and centre Ben Tapuai.

© ESPN Australia / New Zealand

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