Horwill cleared to play after IRB appeal fails
July 2, 2013
A relaxed - and relieved - James Horwill faces the media after being cleared of stamping by an independent hearing © Getty Images
Australia captain James Horwill has been cleared to play in Saturday night's third and deciding Test against the British & Irish Lions. An appeal against the original decision by the IRB was turned down by an independent appeal officer.
Horwill voiced his relief and excitement after the announcement, which will see him lead the Wallabies in the Tom Richards Cup decider.
"It's huge," Horwill said. "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. 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' second row was cited in the wake of his side's first Test defeat in Brisbane and was found not guilty at an initial hearing but the IRB took the unprecedented and controversial step of appealing the decision and ordering a fresh investigation.
Horwill was cleared to play on and steered Australia to victory in Saturday's second Test clash in Melbourne but had to face a fresh hearing in Sydney on Monday night.
The independent appeal officer said: "For the appeal to succeed the IRB would have to establish that there was some misapprehension of law or principle by the judicial officer or that his decision was so clearly wrong or manifestly unreasonable that no judicial officer could have reached the conclusion that he did."
After a two-and-a-half hour appeal hearing conducted by video conference, and extensive deliberation, Graeme Mew, a Canadian, concluded that the judicial officer had not made any errors of law or principle.
"There was sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable judicial officer could have reached the decision that was made. Accordingly, it could not be said that the judicial offer was manifestly wrong or that the interests of justice otherwise required his decision be overturned."
Mew also stated that the IRB's appeal had been properly taken in the discharge of its responsibilities to promote and ensure player welfare and to protect the image and the reputation of the game.
There had been major criticism of the IRB's move to launch an appeal last Thursday but Horwill was loathed to take aim. "The process is what it is but I have to say it was a very fair process both times," he said. "The hearings were very fair."
Despite failing to get any sleep on Monday night, Horwill denied he'd be negatively affected either mentally or physically for the decider.