Saturday 16 December 2017

Confusion over Healy ban

Three weeks becomes four as disciplinary body's numbers fail to add up

Cian Healy
Cian Healy
Conor George

Conor George

THE Six Nations' disciplinary committee claimed they were told that Cian Healy would not play for Leinster this weekend, which is why his suspension will run until March 10.

Healy was officially suspended for three weeks at Wednesday's disciplinary hearing, but the gap from the date of the offence against England to March 10 stretches, of course, to four weeks.

It has emerged that Healy might well have completed his term of suspension before Ireland play France in the Six Nations Championship at the Aviva Stadium on March 9 had the disciplinary committee been told Leinster intended to pick him for the match against Treviso.

INFORMED However, the committee maintain they were informed at the hearing on Wednesday that the player was NOT being released to Leinster and thus disregarded this weekend when passing down judgment.

Healy was originally suspended for five weeks. Two weeks were then shaved off that time for 'mitigating circumstances' leaving a three-week suspension.

The disciplinary committee, it has been confirmed, asked specifically about Healy's likely availability for this weekend's Leinster match and were informed by the Ireland team's representatives that he was not going to be released.

It is understood that in order to make the three-week suspension meaningful, the committee, as a result of that discourse, did not take this weekend into account in calculating the length of the suspension.

IRB rule 17.19.11 stipulates that the Committee are within their remit to ensure any suspension term imposed has actual consequences, which is why the length of Healy's suspension is, in real terms, four weeks while officially remaining a threeweek ban.

However, it is understood that this exchange is at variance with the IRFU party's recollection of what was said.

Reading between the lines, the matter is far from resolved, with an IRFU appeal more than likely to follow next week.

Further confusion regarding Healy's availability for Leinster arose yesterday morning when Leinster forwards' coach Jono Gibbes stated their belief that Healy was available for selection against Treviso tomorrow night and that the player's suspension didn't start until this Sunday evening.

"He's certainly available!" said Gibbs.

"He's not banned for us. I think this issue causes complications for others.

I'm not sure to be honest, but as far as I'm concerned, I expect to see him in with us over the next day or so and he will be considered for Treviso." The waters were then muddied further yesterday morning when Declan Kidney stated categorically that as far as the Ireland management were concerned Healy was suspended, with his suspension term having started from the date of the England game.

The Ireland coach is correct, although he played coy when pressed on the apparent discrepancy between the official length of the suspension (three weeks) and the actual time involved (four weeks).

"Cian has quite a good record so he was entitled to full mitigation when the sentence was passed," said Kidney.

"The ironic thing about a full mitigation of 50pc is that half of five is 2.5 but they don't do half weeks, then it was rounded up to three, so work that out for yourselves! Two and a half went to three and now we're at something else. The documentation we have is that the suspension started when we got the citing and that it will end on March 10, that's all we know." If Kidney's interpretation proves correct then a three-week suspension dating from when they got the citing – taken literally – would end on Sunday March 3 or 4. This would mean he would be available for the match against France on March 9.

If, on the other hand, the Disciplinary Committee's report states the three-week suspension dates from Monday next, February 17, then he should be free to play for Leinster against Treviso.

Ireland are officially awaiting full written representation from the Six Nations before deciding their next course of action.

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