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The Australian James Horwill has his eye closed after clashing with the French forwards.
The Australian James Horwill has his eye closed after clashing with the French forwards.

Pair banned for Horwill hit

France forwards Renaud Boyoud and Imanol Harinordoquy have each received three-week bans for punching Australia lock James Horwill.

BRISBANE // France forwards Renaud Boyoud and Imanol Harinordoquy have each been slapped with three-week bans for punching Australia lock James Horwill in Saturday's physical second Test in Brisbane. At a hearing convened yeterday morning, the pair both pleaded guilty to striking offences resulting from their involvement in an all-in brawl late in the first half of Les Bleus' 40-10 defeat. Their suspensions will apply from Aug 1, leaving them free to play from Aug 22.

Judicial officer Christopher Quinlan deemed the offences in the mid-range of seriousness. He found that Harinordoquy had thrown "deliberate and repeated blows to the head [and] face of the Australian number four". Boyoud was found to have struck Horwill once "but it was a significant blow, struck from behind", according to Quinlan. Horwill, who was left with his eye completely closed, recalled the incident at the Wallabies' team hotel.

"I just went in to give 'Squeak' [hooker Stephen Moore] a hand and there was a flurry of punches," Horwill said. "I looked up and turned the wrong way, copped one from behind and it closed up my left eye [and] that's why I didn't come back on - I just couldn't see. "Squeaky had two guys on him, there was a guy around his neck so I just went to help him out [and] it obviously escalated. "I am not sure why [but] that's footy I guess."

Horwill, 23, was relieved to discover that he had been cleared of a suspected fractured eye socket. He expects to be available for selection for the Wallabies' Tri Nations-opener against South Africa in a fortnight. * Reuters

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