SYDNEY (AFP) – Wallaby captain James Horwill was cleared of stamping on Lions player Alun Wyn Jones, meaning he can play in this weekend's series decider against the British and Irish Lions.
The Australian Rugby Union said independent appeal officer Graeme Mew dismissed an appeal brought by the International Rugby Board against Horwill for allegedly stamping on the head of the lock in the first Test in Brisbane.
Horwill was initially cleared of a foul play charge and took the field for Australia's 16-15 win over the tourists in the second Test on Saturday, but the IRB moved to challenge his acquittal with an independent appeal.
The IRB has never before intervened to overturn a not guilty verdict against a player.
After a two-and-a-half hour videoconference hearing and extensive deliberation, Canadian arbitrator Mew upheld the original decision, saying there had been "no misapprehension of law or principle" proven and no evidence that the acquittal was unreasonable.
"There was sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable judicial officer could have reached the decision that was made," Mew said of the original ruling in Horwill's favour.
Mew said the IRB appeal, which drew outrage from the Australian camp, had been appropriate to safeguard player welfare and protect rugby's image and reputation.