New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu has had his ban for headbutting England captain Lewis Moody reduced from four weeks to two weeks, following an appeal hearing on Friday.
That means that although Mealamu will be ruled out of the All Blacks’ internationals against Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday and Ireland in Dublin next week next week, he will be available for the tour finale against Wales in Cardiff on November 2.
His suspension was reduced after an appeal panel decided he had not intentionally meant to headbutt Moody during the match, which the All Blacks won 26-16.
Mealamu can also play for the Barbarians in their match against world champions South Africa at Twickenham on December 4, having previously been selected for the invitational side.
Hikawera Elliot will make his Test debut in Mealamu’s absence against Scotland at Murrayfield this weekend.
But his ban was reduced after an appeal panel chaired by South Africa’s Peter Ingwersen, together with Robert Williams (Wales) and Jean Noel Couraud (France), decided Mealamu had not acted deliberately.
A statement issued by the appeal committee said that although they upheld the original decision that there had been an act of foul play, having had the opportunity to review the video footage, they concluded the act was not intentional and that it merited a lower end entry point in the IRB list of sanctions.
Effectively, this meant the appeal panel thought the offence was now worth only a maximum ban of four weeks and, because of Mealamu’s record, they reduced it to two just as Crerar had, in his original verdict, reduced the ban from eight weeks to four weeks.Tweet