Get Newsletter

Why IRB interfvention?

James Horwill, captain of Australia, was cited by Freek Burger, the citing commissioner appointed by the IRB, the charge putting a boot to the face of Alun Wyn Jones the B&I lock.

The citing was accepted and Horwill appeased before judicial hearing, chaired by Nigel Hampton of New Zealand, also an IRB appointee. It was a long inquiry.

The upshot was that the charge against Horwill was set aside because Hampton 'ound that, on the balance of probabilities, he could not find 'an intentional or deliberate action of stamping or trampling after viewing the incident from nine different camera angles'. The inquiry and investigation lasted over three hours

The IRB received the full written decision from the hearing on Monday. The IRB did its own inquiry and notified the Australian Rugby Union that it had appealed the decision taken by its own judicial offices.

That appeal is to be heard on Monday, 1 July 2013. by the IRB-appointed judicial official, Graeme Mew of Canada.

Perceptions are important. It is the first time the IRB has taken such a stand.

On the same day as that Test and Horwill's action, the following four incidents occurred in the Test between South Africa and Samoa where the citing commissioner was Peter Larter, the former England prop, and the judicial officer the experienced Judge Jeff Blackett of England. They, too were appointed by the IRB:

1. James So'oialo grabbed Adriaan Strauss by the testicles. Larter cited and Blackett said it could have been an accident and let So'oialo off.

The IRB did not appeal the decision.

2. Alesana Tuilagi launched himself at Jean de Villiers. The match officials examined the incident and issued Tuilagi a red card. It was certainly a dangerous tackle – at the neck with a stiff arm and lots on force on a player who did not have the ball. Tuilagi appeared before Blackett and was suspended for a week – a sort of 'let's pretend we are supporting the referee' suspension.

The IRB did not appeal that decision.

3. Jeremy Su'a stamped on Francois Louw's face and drew blood at the level of his nose. It was an obvious act. Larter did not cite Su'a.

The IRB did not insist that he be cited.

4. Census Johnston kicked Coenie Oosthuizen in the groin. It was an obvious act. Larter did not cite Johnston

The IRB did not insist that Johnston be cited.

In fact the IRB have not been involved in the judicial decisions of their appointees except in the Horwill case.

The impression – and impressions feed perceptions and end up as judgements – is that the IRB are insisting that Horwill be suspended.

Why this case among so many?

The impression is that this is a case of IRB bias. The IRB is located in Dublin, which is in Ireland and close to England, Scotland and Wales, the four unions that make up the B&I Lions. Presumably most of their employees come from those four countries. Presumably they also support the B&I Lions and would like extra pressure on the Australians so that they can win the series.

That is the perception and the perception does the name and good standing of the IRB no good at all.

In fact the inconsistency of disciplinary actions in rugby is troubling. Consistency is demanded of referees. It must surely be much easier to achieve in the judicial process which has none of the pressures of time and action that a referee has.

And James Horwill of a long career in top rugby and an impeccable disciplinary record is to sit through another inquiry.


Join free

Chasing The Sun | Series 1 Episode 1

Fresh Starts | Episode 2 | Sam Whitelock

Royal Navy Men v Royal Air Force Men | Full Match Replay

Royal Navy Women v Royal Air Force Women | Full Match Replay

Abbie Ward: A Bump in the Road

Aotearoa Rugby Podcast | Episode 9

James Cook | The Big Jim Show | Full Episode

New Zealand victorious in TENSE final | Cathay/HSBC Sevens Day Three Men's Highlights

Write A Comment