Irish to seek legal advice with a view to appealing curious ruling on Healy
Having declined to bring legal representation with them to Cian Healy’s disciplinary hearing on Wednesday, a decision on which the player himself effectively had the final say, the Ireland management are now seeking legal advice with a view to appealing the rather curious, and unprecedented, imposition of a three-week suspension over a four-week period.
The independent Six Nations Disciplinary Committee, comprising Roger Morris (chairman, Wales), Achille Reali (Italy) and Julien Berenger (France), appear to have acted contrary to the IRB’s regulations in deferring the starting point of Healy’s three-week suspension for stamping on England’s Dan Cole until next Sunday, because they “recognised that the player would not have played for his province this weekend”.
However, regulation 17.19.11 (b) states that no disciplinary committee “may defer the commencement of a suspension provided that the Player is not scheduled to play (and will not be permitted to play) prior to the commencement of the suspension”.
Leinster’s Jonno Gibbes had intimated yesterday morning that Healy would be free to play for them against Treviso in the Rabo PRO12 at the RDS tomorrow. Subsequently, though, Declan Kidney (who attended Wednesday’s hearing along with Healy and Ireland manager Mick Kearney) maintained Healy will not be allowed play for Leinster against Treviso.
“We’ve been told that he cannot play this week because he is suspended.”
“We were told at the meeting yesterday that the suspension ends on March 10th. Yet, this translates into a four-week suspension, with the disciplinary committee effectively punishing the Irish player welfare system by second-guessing that he would have been rested this weekend,” added Kidney.
No decision regarding an appeal can be made until the written judgment is received.
“We’ll wait for the written representation, but we’ll be taking a very close look at it,” said Kidney, and an appeal to have a three-week ban conclude on March 3rd instead of March 10th (ie three weeks from when he was cited) appears inevitable. If successful, this would make Healy available for the France game on March 9th.
Due to his good disciplinary record heretofore, Healy received maximum mitigation in having a mid-range suspension of five weeks halved before then being rounded off to three weeks. Which, eh, then became four. “Four weeks was what you were hoping to avoid, wasn’t it?” said Kidney when asked if such a ban would have at least provided more clarity. “In fairness to the guy, he put his hands up. It was clumsy, if you look at the intent, and in fairness to the committee they agreed that the intent was to free up the ball.
“He has no previous record; for a fella who has nearly 200 professional games under his belt in the prop position, he has quite a good record so he was entitled to the full mitigation. The ironic thing about a full mitigation is 50 per cent of five is 2.5 but they don’t do half weeks, then it was rounded up to three, so work that out for yourselves,” smiled Kidney, as he tried to explain the mental arithmetic. “Two and a half went to three and now we’re at something else.”