Horwill fined for ref comment
Sydney - Reds skipper James Horwill has been fined A$2 000 ($1 800) for blaming his team's defeat to the Melbourne Rebels earlier this month on "a stupid refereeing decision", Super Rugby governing body SANZAR said on Monday.
With the scores level at 27-27 and two minutes to go at Lang Park on May 17, the Reds were awarded a penalty which allowed them to clear their lines and prepare for a last-ditch assault on the Rebels' lines in search of a winner.
The television official Steve Lescinski, however, alerted referee Steve Walsh to what he thought had been eye-gouging by replacement forward Ed O'Donoghue on Rebels skipper Scott Higginbotham.
After giving Lescinski several opportunities to back down, Walsh reluctantly showed O'Donoghue the red card and reversed the penalty, allowing Jason Woodward a straightforward kick that would seal a sixth successive defeat for the Reds.
"Once again we were robbed by a stupid refereeing decision," Horwill said in the obligatory pitchside TV interview that follows immediately after every match.
The former Wallabies skipper's comment breached over public criticism of the match officials but after he admitted his guilt and offered to apologise, a judicial officer decided it was not a "particularly serious case of misconduct".
"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," read the ruling.
The 2011 Super Rugby champion Reds, who return to action against the Highlanders on Friday after a bye week, were left fuming after O'Donoghue's red card was subsequently expunged by another judicial hearing that ruled he had not been guilty of eye-gouging.