THE IRFU are set to appeal the three-week ban handed down to Irish prop Cian Healy after he was found guilty of stamping on English player Dan Cole during last Sunday's Lansdowne Road defeat.
Healy was suspended for a total of three weeks but the IRB deployed a regulation that takes into account a game the player may not have featured in, namely this weekend's Pro12 clash for his Leinster province.
So, in essence, they have timed the three-week ban to start from this weekend, not from after the game in which the offence occurred, which is normally the case, meaning it is a de facto four-week ban.
Healy will miss both the trip to Scotland on February 24 and the home game against France two weeks later but had the three-week ban been timed from last weekend, as is normally the case, he would have only missed the Scotland fixture.
Although it would have been most unusual for the IRFU to allow one of their first-team players to line out for a province during the Six Nations, the decision of the IRB to extend the time of the ban will be queried by the IRFU. "The IRFU and team management will wait until they receive the written judgment from the hearing before any decision is made on a possible appeal," said an IRFU spokesman.
Healy appeared before an independent Six Nations disciplinary committee, comprising Roger Morris (chairman, Wales), Achille Reali (Italy) and Julien Berenger (France).
The committee, having viewed the footage of the incident and listened to the representations by and on behalf of the player, found that the stamp should be categorised as a mid-range offence in terms of seriousness, which carries a sanction of five weeks.
The committee allowed the maximum two weeks of mitigation, but, in imposing a suspension of three weeks, recognised that the player would not have played for his province this weekend. The suspension will end at midnight on Sunday, March 10.
Meanwhile, the IRFU are expected to confirm today that Jonny Sexton has suffered a grade-two hamstring tear and will definitely miss the Scotland match, with his participation against France now surely also in doubt.