Lions deny lobbying IRB over Horwill stamping controversy
THE stakes have been raised ahead of today's second Test, with the Lions dismissing any suggestion they asked the IRB to intervene in the James Horwill disciplinary process.
Horwill was cited and found innocent of deliberately stamping on Lions lock Alun-Wyn Jones during the first Test but may still face punishment after the IRB sensationally appealed the verdict.
The Lions management had originally referred the issue to the citing officer last Saturday, which was not well received by the Australians.
Horwill yesterday maintained that he was totally innocent of the charge – "I did not know anything about a stamp until I was informed I was after being cited," he said – and was at pains to highlight his previously pristine reputation.
"I have played in over 130 games of professional rugby and have never before been cited. I am totally innocent. When I was told that I had been cited I had no idea what it was for until I was shown the incident.
"I went through the hearing process. It was a complete accident and there was no intent from my side. I had no idea that Alun-Wyn was near my feet.
"It was a complete accident. Unfortunately accidents do happen in rugby but there was no intent or malice from me."
Jones received stitches to the wound after the game but the judicial officer who presided over the hearing – Nigel Hampton QC – ruled that Horwill's actions were not intentional.
It is unprecedented for the IRB to appeal a hearing decision and it had been suggested they did so at the behest of the Lions, something the tourists' media manager Greg Thomas flatly denied yesterday. "On behalf of the Lions management, we did not seek for the IRB to intercede," he said.