O'Connell to learn fate as Munster challenge captain's ban
MUNSTER will find out if second-row Paul O'Connell is available for game-time before their crucial Heineken Cup clash with Toulon on Sunday, January 16 when their appeal against the second-row's suspension is heard today.
Munster lodged an appeal against both the finding of foul play and the four-week ban imposed last Thursday, as a result of the red card O'Connell received in Munster's Heineken Cup win over the Ospreys at Thomond Park on December 12.
At last Thursday's hearing, Jeff Blackett, the independent judicial officer from England, upheld the red card and determined that the act had been deliberate, but that there had been no intention to injure.
Today's appeal hearing will take place by conference call, before a committee comprising chairman Lorne Crerar and Rod McKenzie, who are both from Scotland, and Simon Thomas from Wales.
Munster play Connacht on St Stephen's Day and face further Magners League games against Ulster and Glasgow -- on January 1 and 8 respectively -- before taking on Toulon.
Meanwhile, Ulster will be without flanker Stephen Ferris for Monday's clash with Leinster at Ravenhill and have named a squad that does not include fellow Irish internationals Paddy Wallace, Tom Court and Andrew Trimble.
Ferris is battling a leg injury sustained in training last week, while the Ireland Player Management programme has also come into play for next Monday's encounter. Ulster remain optimistic the match will go ahead, despite the weather conditions.
The Ravenhill pitch is under six inches of snow, but is said to be soft and a special team of people is being organised over Christmas to clear the surface in time for the Leinster match. Ulster carried out a similar operation to ready Ravenhill in time for their Heineken Cup meeting with Bath two weekends ago.