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Disciplinary committee decision

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An independent disciplinary committee sat in Dublin today (Friday) to hear Misconduct complaints under the Heineken Cup Disciplinary Rules brought against Ospreys and the Ospreys full-back Lee Byrne, and have made their decision:

The statement reads:

The Misconduct complaints, brought by tournament organiser, ERC, were that Byrne, who had been replaced as a blood substitute in the 67th minute of the Heineken Cup round 6 match versus Leicester Tigers at Liberty Stadium on January 23 had then re-entered the pitch without replacing another player and/or without the referee signalling that he may do so.

The independent disciplinary committee was chaired by Pat Barriscale (Ireland) and also comprised Mark McParland (Ireland) and Jean-Noel Couraud (France).

Ospreys and Byrne pleaded guilty to the misconduct complaints.

During the hearing, the independent disciplinary committee heard submissions from representatives of ERC and Ospreys and from a number of witnesses, and considered statements from various individuals and video evidence from the match. The committee also heard submissions from representatives of Leicester Tigers.

The independent disciplinary committee found that Byrne had re-entered the pitch without the referee's permission and that he knew or ought to have known that he needed that permission. The committee found that this represented a clear breach of the Substitution Protocol, which forms part of the Tournament Rules, and that the club could have done more to ensure that such a breach did not occur. However, the committee found that the breach had not been deliberate or premeditated on the part of the club's management and that there had been no material effect on the match.

In the circumstances, the committee imposed a fine of 25,000 euros on the Ospreys and suspended Byrne from playing for a period of two weeks, up to and including Friday, February 12. He will be free to play on Saturday, February 13.

Lee Byrne, the Ospreys and ERC have the right to appeal.

Leicester Tigers chairman Peter Tom CBE said: “It was important that events surrounding this incident were investigated to help prevent this situation happening again, especially in such a high-profile fixture in Europe’s elite club competition. 

“The independent disciplinary committee have now made their decision on both charges of misconduct and announced their verdict.

“We will await receipt of the full written verdict before making any further comment.”