Horwill cleared of foul play

James Horwill (AFP)
James Horwill (AFP)

Sydney - Wallaby captain James Horwill was Sunday cleared to play in this weekend's second Test against the British and Irish Lions in Melbourne.

Horwill was found not guilty on a charge of stamping or trampling an opponent during Saturday's first Test won by the Lions 23-21 in Brisbane.

The Wallabies skipper was cited before a disciplinary hearing under Law 10.4 b, where a player must not stamp or trample on an opponent.

Horwill was alleged to have stamped or trampled on Lions' lock Alun Wyn Jones in the third minute of the opening Test.

In handing down his decision after a three-hour plus hearing, Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton 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."

As a result Horwill will now be free to play in the second Test at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on Saturday.

The decision triggered a hostile reaction from the travelling British journalists on the Lions tour.

"A penny for (coach Warren) Gatland's thoughts on that verdict... & AW Jones may wonder how much of his face has to be used as a doormat to lead to a ban," tweeted the Daily Mail's Chris Foy.

The Daily Telegraph's Mick Cleary tweeted: "I've been down here in SH so many times that I ought to be inured to ludicrous disciplinary verdicts...but I'm not. Horwill shld be min 2 wks."

Rugby journalist Andrew Baldock wrote: "And so the southern hemisphere v lions disciplinary farce goes on. Horwill cleared."

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