Relief for Leinster as O’Brien gets reprieve

LEINSTER Rugby and Sean O’Brien breathed a sigh of relief last night when the player was found not guilty of any offence during the Magners League game against Treviso at the weekend.

O’Brien was cited by the match commissioner and charged that he made contact with the eye area of an opponent, an offence that has led to heavy bans for players in the recent past.

However, not only did O’Brien and Leinster put up a vigorous defence but they were assisted and supported by Treviso’s Director of Rugby Vittorio Munario, who gave his views by telephone link side by side with a detailed recording of the alleged incident.

O’Brien was cited under law 10.4 (l) for allegedly making contact with the eye area of a Benetton Treviso player in the 62nd minute.

The hearing took place in the Ulster Branch offices at Ravenhill yesterday, chaired by Harry McKibbin, assisted by former international referee Stephen Hilditch and Neil Jackson.

The panel noted Mr O’Brien moved his right hand from the player’s collar across his face to grab his scrum cap and were satisfied there had been no deliberate contact with the eye area, no injury whatsoever sustained and no player reaction was observed.

The panel concluded the player was not guilty of the offence charged and he is free to continue playing.

Meanwhile, Glasgow Warriors and Munster have had mixed fortunes to date in the Magners League, but Sean Lineen has promised the Irish team to expect an “awesome” challenge at Firhill tomorrow night (7.30pm).

Lineen, the Glasgow Warriors head coach, is hoping his side can rebound strongly from last weekend’s shock home defeat to Connacht, and last year’s respective semi finalists should, he expects, produce a game worthy of their status.

“Munster are all about momentum,” said Lineen. “They are leading the Magners League and never play a bad game so I’m looking forward to what should be an awesome night.”

The Warriors have made three changes – one in the pack and two in the backs – to the starting XV that lost to Connacht last weekend.

The only change up front sees prop Moray Low swap his place on the bench with Ed Kalman.

In the backs, Duncan Weir will make his first starting appearance for Glasgow in place of Ruaridh Jackson whilst Federico Aramburu returns in place of Hefin O’Hare who is on Scotland 7s duty ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

As Weir is handed his first start of the season, Lineen said: “Ruaridh has had three games in a row and I’ve been really impressed with how he’s played. He’s got the line moving in both attack and defence but Duncan really deserves his chance.

“I’ve been really encouraged by both players and how they are pushing each other upwards. It’s great to have two such ambitious 10s.”

GLASGOW: B Stortoni, DTH van der Merwe, M Evans, G Morrison, F Aramburu, D Weir, C Gregor, J Welsh, F Thompson, M Low, T Ryder, R Gray, R Harley, R Vernon, J Barclay (captain).

Replacements (from): D Hall, E Kalman, K Tkachuk, A Muldowney, R Wilson, C Forrester, H Phrgos, R Jackson, R Dewey, P Murchie.

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