Following agreement between the parties, the Misconduct hearing against James Horwill was brought forward to Monday 26 May.
The Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton Hampton QC accepted a guilty plea from Mr Horwill of the Reds on one count of Misconduct brought against him by SANZAR.
The complaint related to comments, ” … once again we were robbed by a stupid refereeing decision,” made by Mr Horwill during an on-field post-match interview following the Reds v Rebels match played at Suncorp Stadium on 17 May 2014 that breached Section 8.3 (3) of the SANZAR Code of Conduct, which reads as follows:
Section 8.3 (e) “All persons shall not publish or cause to be published criticism of the manner in which a Match Official handled a match.”
Mr Horwill was fined A$2500 and ordered to apologise to SANZAR and the match officials.
In his finding, Mr Hampton QC ruled that, “The player promptly admitted the substance of the conduct which formed the basis for the Misconduct complaint being brought against him and displayed a willingness to formally apologise to SANZAR and the match officials. I deem this to be a not particularly serious case of Misconduct in the circumstances and accept that a fine of A$2500 would be an appropriate sanction.
A very close match had reached a critical stage just prior to completion and the intervention by the Television Match Official led to a red card being issued to a Reds’ player (later expunged after a judicial hearing). The resulting penalty against the Reds was converted and led to the loss of the match by the Reds.
The post-match interview followed 30 seconds after full time, in which the comments, the subject of the charge, were made.
As put to me, I accept that the intervention by the Television Match Official, with the consequences that followed was very raw and fresh in the player’s mind and led him to vent his frustration in the way he did.
Mr Horwill has an outstanding prior record at all levels and is a recognised leader both nationally and internationally and I accept he is genuinely contrite, with the offer of an apology coming at his own volition.
I balance against these features of character and past conduct with the fact that Mr Horwill should have known full well the need for respect to be shown to all match officials at all times and it was for that reason SANZAR took this Misconduct complaint.