IRB announces appeal of Thomson ban
Punishment 'unduly lenient sanction'TOBY ROBSON IN CARDIFF
Adam Thomson's test career might be ended by the judiciary after all with news that the IRB will officially review his one week suspension for trampling.
Eleven days after the All Blacks blindside was yellow carded then cited for placing his sprigs on Scotland opposite Alasdair Strokosh's headgear at Murrayfield, his ordeal is back to square one.
In a statement today the IRB said his original punishment had been an "unduly lenient sanction" and not aligned to those handed down for "similar cases.
"The IRB firmly believes it is in the best interests of the Game and its integrity to exercise its ability to appeal the Thomson decision."
Thomson will be shattered by the news. He has already made a detour to London last Wednesday for a judicial hearing, which saw him suspended for two weeks, reduced to one due to his blemish free record and mitigating circumstances.
He could argue he has already sat out two tests as he missed the Italy match in Rome last weekend and was not considered by the All Blacks coaches in Wales due to the pending review.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said today he would not be commenting on the situation until the review process was complete. It's currently unclear when that will be with the IRB saying only that arrangements for the hearing will be announced shortly.
But it is understood the saga has not been well received by the New Zealand Rugby Union, nor within the All Blacks camp.
The soap opera began when number of Britain's leading rugby writers began tweeting their displeasure at the perceived leniency of the sentence.
New IRB chief executive Brett Gosper, an Australian who recently succeeded Mike Miller in the top job, then surprisingly replied with his own tweet that the decision could be over-turned.
"The IRB will review this case as it is a match under our jurisdiction," tweeted Gosper. "If we decide to take action we will make it public."
That has now happened.
The review comes despite Thomson's suspension falling within the IRB's own recommended range of punishment for the offence of "stamping or trampling" on an opponent's head.
The guideline's used by the IRB's independent judicial officer France's Jean-Noel Couraud states two to nine weeks, but the judiciary have scope and precedence to halve a players suspension for good behaviour and, or mitigating circumstances.
A glowing letter of endorsement from Strokosh is understood to have been among the evidence presented by the NZRU's Europe based lawyer Owen Eastwood.
Thomson must now wait to see whether he will be any chance of playing a part in the All Blacks final test of the year, against England at Twickenham on December 1.
Whatever punishment the review panel hands down is final.