The written explanation of Brian O'Driscoll's three week suspension for stamping on Italy's Simone Favaro on March 16th was being reviewed by IRFU legal team last night. A decision on whether O'Driscoll intends to appeal is due today.
At last Wednesday's Six Nations disciplinary hearing the former Ireland captain admitted to committing an act of foul play in the 29th minute of Ireland's 22-15 defeat in Rome but denied it warranted a red card.
However, the committee, chaired by Robert Williams of Wales, deemed it was a sending off offence, under law 10.4(b), in the mid range level which meant a suspension of five weeks, reduced to three having taken the player’s “exemplary previous playing and disciplinary record” into account.
As it stands, O’Driscoll will miss this weekend’s match against Ulster at the RDS and the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter final away to London Wasps on Friday week.
Irish legal experts have been successful at recent Six Nations disciplinary hearings, with Cian Healy’s suspension for stamping reduced by a week, allowing him to face France, while Stephen Ferris’ tip tackle accusation was reversed last season.
O'Driscoll trained with Leinster yesterday along with the other returning internationals – Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Seán O'Brien and Mike Ross – as did a fully recovered Fergus McFadden (cracked rib).
However, Leo Cullen, Gordon D’Arcy, Rhys Ruddock, Dominic Ryan and Isaac Boss (wearing a moon boot) sat out the session to rest knocks sustained or aggravated during Saturday’s 22-17 victory over Glasgow, a result that sent Leinster top of the RaboDirect Pro 12.
Luke Marshall, Roger Wilson and Chris Henry are all due to return for Ulster this Saturday.
“What they did to us last time in Ravenhill ensures we have our minds focused for this one,” said Leinster forwards coach Jonno Gibbs.
Ulster won more convincingly than the 27-19 scoreline suggested on December 21st with their scrum engineering a penalty try.
With Jamie Hagan’s departure to London Irish confirmed yesterday, Gibbs was asked about the progress of Ross’ remaining understudy, Michael Bent.
“I think this last period he has made some really good progress for us. He is keen to learn and keen to keep progressing. I think that’s all you can ask of a player.”
Bent was capped against South Africa in November but Munster’s Stephen Archer has since been promoted to the Ireland bench.
A theory was put to Gibbs, to which he readily agreed, that it takes time for southern hemisphere props to adjust to northern hemisphere scrummaging techniques.
“There is a philosophical difference in how the scrum gets used,” Gibbs replied. “There are different tactics from the opposition and different tactics from the ref. Neither good nor bad, just different. You need to adjust to that.
“Benty is here long term, he is making those adjustments and I am sure he is going to be a good asset for Leinster and Ireland long term.”