Cian Healy cleared of biting opponent in Lions match

Prop available for selection in Australia if he recovers from ankle injury

A suited  Cian Healy  arrives for the hearing into allegations of biting at the Hilton Hotel  in Brisbane, Australia, this morning. Photograph: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

A suited Cian Healy arrives for the hearing into allegations of biting at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane, Australia, this morning. Photograph: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

 

British and Irish Lions prop Cian Healy has been cleared of biting an opponent in the team’s opening match on its rugby tour of Australia and is available for selection if he recovers from an ankle injury.

Healy attended a judicial hearing in Brisbane this morning, and judicial officer Nigel Hampton found insufficient evidence to support the allegation that Healy bit Western Force scrum-half Brett Sheehan on the arm during the Lions’ 69-17 win in Perth two days ago, the Australian Rugby Union said.

“There is no conclusive video evidence of the incident and post-match it was not possible to distinguish any discernible bite marks outside of the regular marks usually found following a rugby match,” Hampton said in his findings.

“I cannot find proven on the balance of probabilities that there was a deliberate bite here.”

Hampton determined that during a tackle in the 17th minute, Sheehan’s arm may have come in contact with Healy’s mouth and due to the pressure of the tackle it is likely that unavoidable contact between Healy’s mouth and teeth and Sheehan’s arm occurred.

Healy (25), had faced a minimum 12-week ban had he been found guilty of a deliberate bite. Match citing officer, Freek Burger of South Africa, had asked Sheehan to provide him with a statement after he made the biting allegation to referee Glen Jackson on the pitch.

The game was held up while the television match official reviewed replays to find evidence of any alleged offense, though the game officials took no action following the review.

Ireland prop Healy was later carried off on a cart after damaging ankle ligaments when he twisted his leg in a tackle. His status for the remainder of the tour isn’t known.

The Lions, who face the Queensland Reds in Brisbane tomorrow in the second of nine games in Australia, called England prop Alex Corbisiero into their squad as cover.

Healy spoke of his relief after he was cleared. In an official statement released by the Lions, the Clontarf, Leinster and Ireland loosehead prop said he had been disappointed to be cited in the first place.

“I am very relieved that the hearing has cleared me of such an allegation,” he said. I was naturally very disappointed that there was a citing in the first place.

“I always maintained that nothing happened and that I had done nothing illegal. The opposition player’s arm hit me. It is as simple as that. The support I had from the management and all the lads was wonderful, and I am glad that it is all over.”

Lions manager Andy Irvine added: “The British and Irish Lions are very pleased with the outcome of today’s judicial hearing in Brisbane. The judicial officer, Nigel Hampton QC, was extremely fair and thoroughly considered all the facts of the case in great detail.

“We always believed that Cian had done nothing wrong and had not acted maliciously in any way. The decision was important to the player’s, and indeed, squad’s integrity, as the allegation was a serious one.”

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