Lions' Healy cleared of biting

Cian Healy (AFP)
Cian Healy (AFP)

Brisbane - British and Irish Lions forward Cian Healy was cleared of biting at a disciplinary hearing in Brisbane on Friday, avoiding a lengthy ban.

The Irish prop was cited following an incident in the 17th minute of the Lions' first tour match in Australia against Western Force in Perth on Wednesday.

Force scrumhalf Brett Sheehan claimed he was bitten in a maul and Healy was cited under a law relating to good sportsmanship. He denied the allegation.

After a two-and-a-half-hour hearing, judicial officer Nigel Hampton found insufficient evidence to support the allegations.

In his findings, Hampton stated that on the balance of probabilities he was not satisfied that Healy had bitten Sheehan.

"There is no conclusive video evidence of the incident and post-match it was not possible to distinguish any discernible bite marks outside of the 'regular' marks usually found following a rugby match," Hampton said in his findings.

"I cannot find proven on the balance of probabilities that there was a deliberate bite here, and the citing complaint is not upheld."

Hampton said that during the tackle Sheehan's arm may have come in contact with Healy's mouth and due to the pressure of the tackle, it was likely that there was unavoidable contact between Healy's teeth and his opponent's arm.

The decision means Healy will be available for selection on the tour although the Leinster front-rower injured his left ankle against Force and was ruled out of Saturday's match against the Queensland Reds.

The Lions management have already called up England prop Alex Corbisiero as cover for Healy.

Past punishments for biting have been heavy, including an 18-month suspension handed down to South Africa's Johan Le Roux in 1994.

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