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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 04:04 GMT 05:04 UK
Healey fined after inquiry
Healey (r) and Harrison did not see eye-to-eye
Healey (r) and Harrison did not see eye-to-eye
Austin Healey has been found guilty of bringing the Lions into disrepute for comments he made in a newspaper column.

Healey is believed to have been fined 2500 for being in breach of his tour contract.

He appeared before a three-man panel in Dublin made up of Lions manager Donal Lenihan, coach Graham Henry and captain Martin Johnson.


The incident was a serious one that did harm to the tour and the Lions, and therefore a fine has been imposed
Lions statement

The Leicester and England star is now considering his next move, and could lodge an appeal.

His punishment has already been criticised by fellow Lion, Colin Charvis, who told BBC Sport Online the incident should have been forgotten.

In the column, Healey ridiculed Australian lock Justin Harrison before the third and final Test of the series, calling him a 'plod' and a 'plank', and criticised various aspects of Australian life.

A statement released by the Lions disciplinary committee described the content of the article as "totally unacceptable".

The statement read: "It embarrassed the tour party, the Lions and those who had travelled to Australia to support the tour."

"It clearly brought the Lions into disrepute"

The comments rebounded on Healey, who was a late withdrawal from the match.

Harrison produced a stunning debut performance as Australia won the game 29-23 to clinch a 2-1 series victory.

Matt Dawson
Dawson was critical of the Lions' management

It later emerged that the column had been ghost-written and that Healey did not see it before publication.

The disciplinary committee took this into account, saying the Leicester and England star had been the "victim of a breach of trust by his ghost journalist".

But it ruled that players have to take responsibility for the personal arrangements they make with the media and for any statements published under the players' name.

"The committee accepts Mr Healey's submission that he regrets the incident and intended no disrespect to the Lions or the Tour Management," the statement read.

"Ultimately, however, the incident was a serious one that did harm to the tour and the Lions, and therefore a fine has been imposed."

Public statement

Healey left Dublin without commenting, although Leicester rugby director Dean Richards spoke briefly to waiting reporters after accompanying his player at the hearing.

"Needless to say, Austin would like a bit of peace and quiet and a chance to reflect on the hearing," Richards said.

"He will be speaking to me, and may make a public statement in 48 hours."

Scrum-half Matt Dawson was also critical of the tour's management in a newspaper column but the matter was dealt with in Australia before the Lions returned home.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC rugby union correspondent Ian Robertson
"The outcome of the hearing was totally predictable"
Lions chief executive Roger Pickering
"The amount of the fine is a personal matter between a player and his employer"
Lions manager Donal Lenihan
"We decided the article was totally unacceptable"

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See also:

15 Jul 01 | Lions Down Under
15 Jul 01 | Lions Down Under
06 Jul 01 | Lions Down Under
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