Iain Henderson cleared to play after red card rescinded

Ulster boosted after Pro12 panel say incident did not warrant the flanker’s dismissal

Iain Henderson has been in great form for Ulster this season. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Iain Henderson has been in great form for Ulster this season. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Ulster’s prospects of winning the Guinness Pro12 received a significant boost yesterday when a disciplinary panel judged that the red card Iain Henderson received in last Saturday’s 23-all draw with Munster was “unwarranted”.

This cleared the 23-year-old for the seasonal run-in, beginning with next Saturday’s final regular season game away to Glasgow.

The in-form Henderson was issued a straight red by referee Nigel Owens on the advice of TMO Kevin Beggs for supposedly leading with his head when clearing out Munster replacement Ronan O’Mahony at a ruck in the 74th minute.

Footage A statement issued on behalf of the Guinness Pro12 stated: “The disciplinary committee, chaired by Roger Morris, along with Rhian Williams and Ray Wilton [

Second Captains

who are all from Wales], having viewed the footage of the incident and listened to representations by and on behalf of Mr Henderson, decided that the act did not warrant a red card.

“Having viewed the incident in close-up (which the match referee had not been able to do at the time), the disciplinary committee concluded that the player’s initial contact with his opponent had not in fact been with his head but with his arm.

“The disciplinary committee imposed no sanction on the player, who is free to resume playing immediately.”

Ulster had feared that the disciplinary panel might impose a ban which would end Henderson’s season

This would have deprived them of their main source of go-forward ball up front, and the flanker’s absence might even stretch into Ireland’s World Cup warm-up matches in August and early September.

They are also fretting about the well-being of Roger Wilson, who is observing the return-to-play protocols, as well as centre Darren Cave (hamstring) and props Callum Black and Wiehahn Herbst.

Ulster need to beat Glasgow and hope the Ospreys don’t win away to Connacht or that Munster don’t beat the Dragons at home in order to obtain a home semi-final.

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