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'Red Card Offence, But No Ban'- New Zealand Media React To Sean O'Brien Verdict

'Red Card Offence, But No Ban'- New Zealand Media React To Sean O'Brien Verdict
Mikey Traynor
By Mikey Traynor
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After a hearing that lasted nearly four hours, Leinster flanker Sean O'Brien has been cleared to face the All Blacks in the third test at Eden Park next week.

O'Brien was one of the standout performers as the Lions came from behind to defeat the 14-man All Blacks on Saturday, but he was cited for 'dangerous play' after allegedly striking New Zealand winger Waisake Naholo in the 59th minute of the game.

Thankfully for Warren Gatland, O'Brien was given the all clear, and judging by the reaction from the Kiwi media it's a decision that was has been begrudgingly accepted. Particularly after slapping Sonny Bill Williams with a four-week ban, ruling him out for the rest of the tour, many New Zealand fans were hoping for a similar punishment for O'Brien from the commission, despite the difference in severity of the incidents.

O'Brien's verdict is the main headline on Stuff.co.nz, where they lead with the fact that it was a red card offence, but the player recieved no ban.

sean o'brien cited

In the article, they were quick to point out that the panel of judges were all Australian.

British and Irish Lions flanker Sean O'Brien is free to play the third rugby test against the All Blacks after his citing for allegedly striking wing Waisake Naholo was dismissed.

In a significant boost for the touring side, an all-Australian judicial panel of Adam Casselden, David Croft and John Langford cleared O'Brien after a marathon hearing at New Zealand Rugby headquarters in Wellington on Sunday. It stretched more than three-and-a-half hours.


The signs weren't good for O'Brien after Australian citing commissioner Scott Nowland ruled referee Jerome Garces and his fellow officials had missed a red card offence.

Video of the incident in the 59th minute showed O'Brien making contact with Naholo's jaw with a swinging arm after the All Blacks wing received a kickoff and was tackled.

Richard Knowler listed O'Brien's incident as one of the controversies in his piece on 'How the Lions shocked the All Blacks in the 2nd test'.

Lions flanker Sean O'Brien was cleared for using a swinging arm to crude effect into the head of Naholo in the second half. O'Brien escaped censure by the on-field officials, but the citing commissioner got his man, deeming it a "red card offence". Naholo retired for a concussion test. Nevertheless, O'Brien is free to line up in the third test.

Over at the New Zealand Herald, there was more 'on-the-nose' reporting of the result of the result of the hearing.


Naholo had to go off for a concussion test and did not return to the field. The Citing Commissioner said the incident, in the 19th minute of the second half, was deemed to have met the threshold for a red card, therefore was worthy of a judicial hearing.

However, the hearing, which lasted nearly four hours, eventually cleared O'Brien, leaving the Irish flanker free to don the number seven jersey at Eden Park on Saturday.

There is no question as to the importance Sean O'Brien has for Gatland's side, as he was excellent with ball in hand as well as at the breakdown in Wellington, but it seems as though the decision to allow him to play has been accepted on the other side of the world.


It's interesing to ponder how the verdict may have changed if Sonny Bill Williams' hearing hadn't already taken place, as O'Brien's incident looked far less serious in comparison, but all that matters is that the Irishman can play, and the Kiwi can't.

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