Byrne banned, Ospreys fined for 16th man

Wales fullback Lee Byrne will miss his nation’s Six Nations opener against England next week after being banned for his role in the 16th-man controversy in the Ospreys European Cup win over Leicester.

Byrne pleaded guilty to a misconduct charge laid as a result of a brief appearance as Ospreys’ 16th player in their 17-12 victory on Saturday and the resulting two-week ban means he will miss the February 6 clash with England.

Ospreys were fined 25,000 euros over the incident but the disciplinary panel ruled there had been “no material effect on the match.”


That means the result stands and Ospreys keep their place in the quarter-finals of the competition, in which they will meet Biarritz on April 10, while English champions Leicester are eliminated.

Ospreys only enjoyed a numerical advantage for about a minute after Byrne, who had been replaced by centre Sonny Parker while he was treated for a bloodied toe, returned to the pitch without any of his team-mates leaving.

Leicester complained to tournament organisers European Rugby Cup (ERC) shortly after the match and had argued that, during Byrne’s time as a 16th player, he helped thwart a Tigers attack.

Byrne’s ban is bad news for Wales, whose head coach Warren Gatland had been expected to hand him the number 15 shirt for the clash with England.

Gatland will now be expected to play James Hook at fullback but that means he will have to find another centre to play alongside Jamie Roberts.

Byrne will be available to play in Wales’s second match in the Six Nations, against Scotland in Cardiff on February 13

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