x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Rugby union: Hearing adjourned as James Horwill to learn his fate

IRB appealed after Wallabies captain James Horwill was cleared of stamping in a Test match with the British & Irish Lions by a New Zealand judicial officer.

James Horwill will find out Tuesday if he will be allowed to play for the Wallabies in Saturday’s series-deciding Test. David Rogers / Getty Images
James Horwill will find out Tuesday if he will be allowed to play for the Wallabies in Saturday’s series-deciding Test. David Rogers / Getty Images

James Horwill, the Australia captain, will not know until Tuesday whether he will be available to play in Saturday's series-deciding third Test against the British & Irish Lions after his appeal hearing was adjourned, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said.

The International Rugby Board (IRB) appeal against the Australia lock's dismissed rucking charge from the first 10 days ago was adjourned after almost three hours of evidence and legal argument via teleconference late Monday, the ARU said.

The Canadian arbitrator Graeme Mew stopped to consider his findings and ARU officials said he would not be handing down his judgement until early Tuesday.

Horwill and the Wallabies coach Robbie Deans left the hearing, held over a video link with Mew in Toronto, to retire for the night at their Sydney team hotel.

The pair were expected to appear at a media conference Tuesday after the appeal decision is handed down.

Horwill was exonerated by New Zealand judicial officer Nigel Hampton QC on June 23 after being cited for stamping on Lions second row Alun Wyn Jones in the first Test in Brisbane, which the Lions won 23-21.

The ARU voiced its disapproval at the lodging of the appeal – the first the IRB has launched against a player who was cleared by one of its judicial officers – and has fought with a legal team for their captain's availability. The Lions have already lost their own captain for Saturday's showdown after flanker Sam Warburton was ruled out with a hamstring injury Sunday.

Scans revealed a "significant tear" in his left hamstring suffered late in the Lions' 16-15 second Test defeat by Australia at the weekend. The Welsh flanker will now miss the series showdown in Sydney, officials said.

Veteran Irish centre Brian O'Driscoll is now expected to captain the tourists in what will be his final Lions Test.

The loss of Warburton, their best player in the second Test in Melbourne, is a significant blow for the Lions as they strive to end a 16-year series drought.

Ireland's Sean O'Brien, highly regarded by the Wallabies after his starring display in a 2011 Rugby World Cup pool game upset over Australia, is in line to replace Warburton at No 7.

Lions coach Warren Gatland is due to announce his starting line-up for the Sydney Test on Wednesday.

Despite the second-Test win for Australia, Ashley-Cooper, who scored the game's only try that ultimately sealed victory in Melbourne after it was successfully converted, was not impressed with his side's performance.

"I think we've got a lot more in us, I thought the game wasn't of great standard," Ashley-Cooper, 29, told reporters in Sydney yesterday. "We made a lot of improvements from game one, but we certainly feel we've got a lot more improvements to make."

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