Healy wins appeal; to face France
Healy wins appeal; to face FranceSHARE
Ireland prop Cian Healy had his ban for stamping on England's Joe Marler reduced by a week on appeal at a hearing in Glasgow on Wednesday.
He will now be available to face France in Dublin on March 9.
Healy was cited after Ireland's 12-6 loss to England at Lansdowne Road on February 10 and three days later was banned for three weeks.
However, the ban was spread over four weeks in an attempt to take account of the first 'break' weekend of the Six Nations, the concern among officials being Healy could simply have used up a week of the ban when he would not have been playing in any event.
But matters were complicated by the fact that on the 'break' weekend his province, Leinster, had a Celtic League match against Italian side Treviso.
Leinster wanted him to play in that fixture, but were told by officials that Healy, who also missed last weekend's 12-8 Six Nations loss away to Scotland, was barred from that match too.
However, Healy argued extending the three week suspension over four weekends was not permissible under the relevant regulations.
And an independent disciplinary appeal committee, chaired by Scotland's Professor Lorne Crerar agreed on Wednesday, saying they "therefore concluded that Cian Healy's suspension should end at midnight on Sunday 3 March 2013, and not a midnight on Sunday 10 March 2013."
Tempers flared in the 14th minute of England's victory in Dublin when Healy used his boot on rival front row Cole's ankle at a ruck formed following a collapsed maul, sparking a mass brawl.
Match referee Jerome Garces of France took no action at the time, but Healy was cited by Italian citing commissioner Alberto Recadini.
Last Sunday, injuries and Healy's suspension forced Ireland coach Declan Kidney into making five changes at Murrayfield, with the loosehead prop's place taken by Tom Court.
This weekend is the second 'break' in the Six Nations, with the tournament resuming on March 9.
Ireland are currently fourth in the table, having beaten champions Wales in Cardiff on the first weekend only to since lose to England and Scotland.