Cian Healy has been cleared to play in this weekend's Heineken Champions Cup game against Racing 92 after the red card he received in last weekend's URC victory against Ulster was overturned.
Healy was sent off after twenty minutes for a tackle on hooker Tom Stewart.
Both players were left bloodied due to the nature of the head-to-head contact.
Leinster went onto win the game by nine points.
Red card for Leinster's Cian Healy! 🟥
Following a TMO review, the referee shows a red card and Leinster will play the rest of this game with 14 men.
Do you agree with the call? 💬#LEIvULS pic.twitter.com/CawEktujM8
— Viaplay Sports UK (@ViaplaySportsUK) December 3, 2022
Despite most considering it be a blantant red card, a URC disciplinary panel has ruled there was sufficient mitigation to lower Healy’s penalty to a yellow card offence.
URC explain why Cian Healy red card was overturned
The URC explained their reasonings for rescinding the card in a statement:
“After an act of foul play against Ulster player No 2 (Tom Stewart), referee Christophe Ridley showed the player a red card in the 20th minute of the game under Law 9.13 – A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously.
"Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.
“Upon review of the incident, the panel overseeing the disciplinary process – Robert Milligan KC (Chair, Scotland), Nigel Williams (Wales), Simon Thomas (Wales) – deemed that there was sufficient mitigating factors to reduce the red card to a yellow card.
"Therefore, the red card was not upheld and the player can return to play effective immediately.”
The decision to rescind the card has caused confusion amongst ex-players and journalists alike:
Cian Healy red overturned, he's free to face Racing
Rugby's disciplinary process continues to baffle me pic.twitter.com/BSkVlHVSXb
— Rúaidhrí O'Connor (@RuaidhriOC) December 7, 2022
This is worrying. A referee may get something wrong in the moment but to review this tackle and think it sends a positive message to overrule the (correct) decision is wrong on so many levels https://t.co/mEGKXyDsGA
— Jonny Holland (@jonnyholland10) December 7, 2022
Decisions like this will hasten the demise of rugby. A mere slap on the wrist for a dangerous tackle.
Irresponsible and incorrect decision according to both the letter and spirit of the law.
Lost any remaining faith in these disciplinary panels. https://t.co/FOAQDOoxmO
— Peter Lockhart (The Red Hand) (@dplockhart) December 7, 2022
World Rugby has been trying to stamp out head injuries and bring in rules which would result in stronger punishments for tackling that can cause head injuries.
In May 2019, in its efforts to clamp down on dangerous incidents, World Rugby published its Decision-Making Framework for High Tackles. It was intended to be a “systematic tool” to guide decision-making by referees, citing commissioners and disciplinary panels as to the appropriate sanction for potential acts of foul play.
It appears however that there is still muddy water when it comes to the sport's disciplinary process and this latest decision regarding Cian Healy highlights it even further.