Tournaire cleared of biting charge
French prop forward Franck Tournaire has been cleared of an allegation of biting during his team's World Cup semi-final victory over New Zealand, team media officer Lionel Rossigneux said Wednesday.
Tournaire, who was cited 24 hours earlier, will be free to play for France in Saturday's final against Australia at the Millennium Stadium, Rossigneux said.
Tournaire faced a charge of biting an unspecified opponent at Twickenham last Sunday. His disciplinary hearing on Wednesday morning was chaired by Neil Bidder QC.
The news will come as a huge relief to the French team, who are already without Tournaire's front-row partner Christian Califano, who was suspended for 50 days earlier in the tournament after being found guilty of head-butting against Fiji.
Rossigneux said 26-year-old Tournaire did not wish to make any comment about the hearing, but maintained he had done "nothing wrong" in the match.
Had he been found guilty, Tournaire could have received a recommended International Rugby Board suspension of anything between one and three years.
Tournaire being found not guilty emerged as a dramatic twist in final week of the tournament. New Zealand coach John Hart had earlier called the alleged biting incident "appalling" and criticising the French for other "actions taken that have absolutely no place on the rugby field".
New Zealand's team doctor John Mayhew has claimed All Blacks had been eye gouged, headbutted and grabbed by the testicles by French players during the semi-finals.
In light of the allegations, Australian coach Rod Macqueen called on final referee Andre Watson of South Africa to ensure any incidents of foul play were punished on the field.
"One thing that's very important is that the action is taken on the field - and not citings later," Macqueen told reporters.
Asked if intimidatory tactics were a factor to consider approaching a match against France, Macqueen said: "I wouldn't think so".