Rugby Championship

Hooper free to face All Blacks

2015-08-02 16:54
Michael Hooper (AFP)

Sydney - Australia flank Michael Hooper was freed to face New Zealand in the Rugby Championship decider this weekend after an appeal against the leniency of his one-week ban for striking an opponent was dismissed on Sunday.

SANZAR, the governing body of southern hemisphere rugby, launched an appeal on Friday against Hooper's punishment for striking Argentina's Nicolas Sanchez in last weekend's Test in Mendoza.

The Australian Rugby Union responded by launching a counter-appeal against the original ban but both were unanimously dismissed by a three-man committee on Sunday.

"The committee... dismissed the appeal brought by SANZAR that the judicial officer's sanction of one week was unduly lenient," read a SANZAR statement.

"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."

The former Wallabies captain landed the blow after being held back by flyhalf Sanchez while trying to support Dean Mumm as the lock charged to the line to score a try in the 34-9 victory over the Pumas.

A two-week ban was reduced to one week because of Hooper's exemplary disciplinary record.

Although Australia did not have a test this weekend, the original judicial officer considered Hooper missing a match for his club Manly a sufficient penalty.

The Wallabies could secure a first southern hemisphere title since the similarly truncated 2011 Tri-Nations if they can beat the All Blacks in Sydney on Saturday.

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