Hooper free to play on after appeal dismissed

Australian flanker Michael Hooper will be available to play for the Wallabies
against New Zealand’s All Blacks in the Rugby Championship decider.

Hooper was suspended by a SANZAR disciplinary panel for one week for striking
Argentina flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez and served his one week suspension at club
rugby level.

However SANZAR were not happy with the one week suspension and appealed the
decision. Meanwhile the Australian Rugby Union also appealed for the ban to
be wiped off Hooper’s record and for it to be withdrawn.

On Sunday a SANZAR Appeals Committee, chaired by Jannie Lubbe SC (South Africa)
and comprising Terry Willis (Australia) and Mike Heron QC (New Zealand) unanimously
dismissed both appeals brought by SANZAR and The Australian Rugby Union (ARU)
on behalf of Michael Hooper.

The Committee dismissed the ARU appeal on behalf of Michael Hooper on the basis
that the appellant was unable to show that the Judicial Officer erred in law
in finding that Hooper’s striking of Nicolas Sanchez from Argentina was a breach
of Law 10.4 (a).

The Committee also dismissed the appeal brought by SANZAR that the Judicial
Officer’s sanction of one week was unduly lenient. The Committee found the Judicial
Officer was correct in the exercise of his discretion that the offending was
low-end.

As such, the player’s suspension from all forms of the game for one week was
confirmed.

Under the SANZAR Judicial Rules, all first instance formal judicial hearings
are reviewed by an independent Appeals Review Officer. The review officer, the
Honourable Graeme Mew (Canada), examined the Hooper case and in his determination,
referred it to a SANZAR Appeals Committee to review the sanction handed down
by Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton QC. This was the first judicial hearing reviewed
by an independent Appeals Review Officer.

Hooper is therefore free to play for Australia in Saturday’s Rugby Championship
title decider against New Zealand in Sydney.

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