Tuesday 23 January 2018

Leinster launch legal bid to free Cian Healy for Toulon clash

Leinster's Cian Healy (Sportsfile)
Leinster's Cian Healy (Sportsfile)
David Kelly

David Kelly

Leinster are confident that the two-week ban handed down to Cian Healy will be lifted later today, allowing the Irish prop to face Toulon in the Champions Cup tomorrow.

Healy was set to miss both tomorrow's Champions Cup clash with Toulon and the festive derby against Munster but a successful appeal could yet see him free to play in both as Leinster have asked for the suspension to be lifted before an appeal is heard.

Healy was called to Paris on Thursday after being cited by match citing commissioner John Byett, for allegedly striking Toulon hooker Guilhem Guirado with his knee in contravention of Law 10.4 (a), in the 26th minute of last Sunday's Champions Cup defeat.

The independent judicial officer, Welshman Roger Morris, heard submissions and evidence from Healy, who pleaded not guilty to an offence of striking, as well as Leinster team manager Guy Easterby and legal representative Donal Spring.

After hearing the submissions and evidence, the judicial officer decided that the charge of striking could not be proven.

However, the judicial officer determined that Healy had committed an act of foul play and, unusually, amended the charge to "dangerous charging or obstructing or grabbing of an opponent without the ball, including shouldering."

It is on this point that Leinster argue Healy has not received due process as he never received an opportunity to answer the amended charge, never mind prepare a defence or hear the details of the charge.

The judicial officer found that the offence was at the low end of World Rugby's sanctions and selected two weeks as the appropriate entry point.

A two-week ban was imposed as Healy already has a history of disciplinary issues but Leinster, having won a fight they had been prepared for, before losing one that they were not, are confident that the ban will be over-turned.

“I thought that Cian one was a tough call,” said head coach Leo Cullen yesterday. “If you watch his line of vision, he’s fully focused on entering the contact area and if anything the Toulon player rolls into the gate which is where Cian is targeting.

“It’d be different if Cian came through the side. All the officials when we meet, they preach the tackler must roll to the side of the breakdown. The Toulon player rolls into the gate and that’s a penalty offence – that’s the way we would teach our players to roll out of the tackle because we don’t want to give away those penalties.

“So that was a tough call and we’ve had a few discussions around that side of the game and the citing commissioner obviously sees it different. [I was] surprised it was a citing in the first place. Cian is a pretty exceptional player and he’d be a loss for any team, for sure.”

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