Six Nations clarify Healy ban
Rugby:The Six Nations disciplinary committee that handed Cian Healy a three-week ban for stamping contend that it was informed by the Irish management the Leinster prop would not be released to face Treviso this weekend. As such, the committee took the decision to defer the sanction until this weekend, ruling Healy out of the Six Nations matches with Scotland and France.
Under current IRB regulations, suspensions handed down can be delayed, but only if a player is not scheduled to play in the intervening period. If the committee was told Healy would not feature against Treviso, it would appear they were perfectly within their rights to implement regulation 17.19.11 (b), which states the 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.”
There was widespread confusion yesterday after Leinster indicated they had been told Healy would be availabile for provincial duty this weekend, only for Ireland coach Declan Kidney to state the opposite in a subsequent press briefing at the Ireland training camp. With the ‘three week’ ban not due to expire until March 11th, it had been assumed it would not kick in until Sunday night.
However, the Six Nations issued a statement this afternoon detailing the rationale behind the suspension and attempting to clarify any misunderstandings that have arisen.
“There have been media reports in the last two days that suggest that the three-week playing suspension imposed on Irish international, Cian Healy, by an independent Disciplinary Committee following the Ireland v England match in the RBS 6 Nations Championship on Sunday, 10 February 2013 is somehow unprecedented and/or outside the scope of the relevant regulations,” the statement reads.
“There have also been media reports that suggest that Leinster (Mr Healy's provincial side) may have selected (or were able to select) Mr Healy to play in this weekend's RaboDirect Pro12 match against Benetton Treviso. Therefore Six Nations Rugby Limited (the company that administers the disciplinary process for the RBS 6 Nations Championship) wishes to clarify the position.
“During the hearing of the citing complaint against Mr Healy, the chairman of the independent Disciplinary Committee, Roger Morris of Wales, made it clear to Mr Healy and those representing him at the hearing that Mr Healy was suspended from the date on which he had been informed of the citing complaint against him (11 February 2013) until midnight on the night of Sunday, 10 March 2013.
“The Disciplinary Committee has not yet produced its written decision but Mr Morris has today written to Six Nations Rugby Limited and those representing Mr Healy at the hearing to confirm the position. Mr Morris says, in relevant part: 'I do not think anyone present at the hearing on Wednesday was in any doubt that Mr Healy is not free to play again until after midnight on 10 March'.
“Accordingly, Mr Healy is currently suspended and will remain suspended - subject to appeals - until 11 March 2013. He is therefore not eligible to play for Leinster in this weekend's RaboDirect Pro12 match against Benetton Treviso. Mr Healy has a right of appeal against the decision of the independent Disciplinary Committee, as do Six Nations Rugby Limited and the IRB. However, in the event of an appeal Mr Healy will remain suspended pending any appeal hearing.
“In addition, following clause 2.5.99 of the Six Nations Disciplinary and Anti-Doping Rules (which is consistent with IRB Regulations 17.19.10 and 17.19.11), and in keeping with other decisions, the Disciplinary Committee excluded this weekend from its calculations of the three-week suspension as a result of evidence given at the hearing to the effect that Mr Healy would not have been selected to play for Leinster in this weekend’s match against Benetton Treviso.”
Although they won't have Healy within their ranks, Leinster can welcome back several players who were involved with the Ireland squad in recent weeks with Seán Cronin and Eoin Reddan due to start while Ian Madigan will hope to press his case for inclusion in the squad to meet Scotland when he features at outhalf.
Elsewhere, Fergus McFadden joins fullback Luke Fitzgerald and Dave Kearney in the three.
The IRFU, meanwhile, have yet to confirm whether they will be appealing Healy’s ban having sought legal advice regarding the rather curious, and unprecedented, imposition of a three-week suspension over a four-week period.
“We’ll wait for the written representation, but we’ll be taking a very close look at it,” Ireland coach Declan Kidney said yesterday, 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.
Leinster:L Fitzgerald; D Kearney, E O'Malley, A Goodman, F McFadden; I Madigan, E Reddan; J McGrath, S Cronin, J Hagan, B Marshall, D Toner, R Ruddock, D Ryan, J Murphy. Replacements:A Dundon, J O'Connell, M Bent, L Cullen, S Jennings, I Boss, N Reid, F Carr.