Wallabies captain James Horwill will play in the series decider against the British and Irish Lions after having a stamping allegation against him dismissed for a second time.
After more than 13 hours of deliberation, International Rugby Board-appointed judicial officer Graeme Mew found on Tuesday there was no reason to overturn an earlier decision that Horwill had not intentionally stamped on the head of Lions second rower Alun Wyn Jones during the first Test in Brisbane on June 22.
The incident occurred during the third minute of the Lions 23-21 victory over the Wallabies. Horwill struck Jones in the head during a ruck. The Lions second rower played out most of the match and required stitches to his eye after the full-time bell.
The Lions referred the matter to the citing commissioner after the game, but a four-hour hearing in front of IRB-appointed judicial officer Nigel Hampton QC last Sunday night found there was sufficient merit in Horwill’s explanation that he was “spun off balance” by Lions players entering the ruck from the other side.
The decision was controversially overturned by the IRB on Thursday night and while the board did not provide a clear reason why, they cited the “preservation of player welfare”.
“It is important for the IRB to ensure amongst all stakeholders in the game that there is full confidence that priority is given to player welfare and the values of the game,” the IRB said at the time.
Horwill claimed he was unaware of the incident until he was cited and had a chance to view footage from the game.
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