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Wednesday, November 3, 1999 Published at 13:15 GMT

French prop cleared of biting

Franck Tournaire celebrates France's semi-final victory

France have received a boost ahead of their World Cup final clash with Australia as prop Franck Tournaire is cleared of biting, according to the team's media officer Lionel Rossigneux.

The BBC's Ian Robertson: "Impossible to tell if Tournaire was biting his opponent"
The player faced a one-to-three year ban if found guilty, but he is now free to continue his career and take the field at the Millennium Stadium finale.

He was charged with biting an "unspecified" opponent during France's 43-31 demolition of New Zealand in their semi-final at Twickenham last Sunday.

French preparations were thrown into disarray on Tuesday when Tournaire was cited by tournament disciplinary chiefs for biting.

All Blacks captain Taine Randell had earlier denied reports that he was the prop's alleged victim, saying: "I didn't think I was bitten. I don't have a clue what happened."

But New Zealand coach John Hart said: "There is a suggestion that another player might have been bitten, which is pretty appalling if that is the case.

"I didn't say anything after the semi-final because I didn't want to distract from the French performance, but subsequent remarks from my players were of events that have no place in the game.

"Things that happened don't have a place on the field. I've taken a very deliberate stance on this - there is a system in process, and I believe that that is how it should occur. At no stage after the French game did I consider making any citings."

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