'I did nothing wrong' - James Horwill
June 28, 2013
Not off the hook yet ... © Getty Images
Wallabies captain James Horwill remains focused on the second Test against the British & Irish Lions despite the International Rugby Board's controversial decision to re-open judicial proceedings.
The IRB announced on Thursday that it would appeal against the decision of its own appointed judicial officer, Nigel Hampton, to clear Horwill of stamping on Lions lock Alun-Wyn Jones in the opening minutes of the first Test at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Horwill was cited under Law 10.4 b of the IRB's disciplinary rules, for "stamping" or "trampling" on an opponent after appearing to make contact with the face of Jones, but Hampton found him not guilty of stamping, after viewing the incident from nine camera angles. Hampton said he "could not reject as being implausible or improbable" Horwill's defence that he was off balance. The decision caused anger within the Lions camp.
Horwill said on Friday that the IRB was entitled to launch an appeal, but he insisted he had done nothing with intent or malice against Jones, who was at the bottom of a ruck when the incident occurred in the third minute. "I've played 130 professional rugby games and I've never been cited once, never attended any judicial hearing, so it was a complete accident," Horwill said.
"Unfortunately, accidents happen in rugby. It's a contact sport but there was no intent or malice from me to do anything. I had no idea that Alun was anywhere near my feet, and that's what I am sticking by. I got a very fair hearing the first time and I expect it to be no different come the second time.
"I don't know too much about it, I've been focused on the game and once the game's finished I'll have a better look at it. We have a legal team in place that are going through it at the moment and my focus is completely on this weekend."
James Horwill maintains his innocence
The appeal will be heard on Monday (8pm AEST) by Canadian judicial official Graeme Mew via video conference with Horwill free to play in this Saturday's second Test showdown in Melbourne.
The IRB informed the Australian Rugby Union (ARU): "Given its duty to preserve player welfare at all levels of the game, the IRB is compelled to further examine potential acts of foul play which either potentially or in reality impact on 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."
ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said: "This is an unprecedented step taken by the IRB in what is the most important rugby event staged in Australia since the 2003 Rugby World Cup. While we respect the right of the IRB to intervene, we also respect the knowledge and experience of appointed - and independent - judicial officers, and their expertise to consider evidence and reach sound findings."
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