Rugby Union: Flavell to Face English Justice Via Video Link to New Zealand

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THE RUGBY Football Union's disciplinary officer, Jeff Blackett, is to deal with Troy Flavell. If he succeeds, it will be more than the England team managed to do as the lock forward from North Harbour, playing for the New Zealand Barbarians at Twickenham last weekend, earned himself a whole sackful of Christmas notoriety.

In the absence of England's enforcer-in-chief, Martin Johnson, the aggressive Maori put Richard Hill off the pitch with what looked suspiciously like a forearm smash to the nose and lived to tell the tale. But in the video age, few escape some form of justice for long.

It was video footage that persuaded the RFU to cite Flavell in the first place, and the New Zealander, now back at home in Auckland, will answer for his alleged sins via a long-distance video link-up next Monday morning. As Blackett was the citing officer for the much-criticised "celebration" match, which England won 45-17, few would give Flavell much for his chances of acquittal. But the New Zealand Rugby Football Union, which should have dealt with its player under the rules of engagement covering the one-off fixture, has formally passed responsibility to Blackett. If only the All Blacks had passed the ball as successfully during the World Cup last month, they might have won the tournament.

"I am content to take back jurisdiction in this case if the NZRFU feel more comfortable with that course of action," Blackett said yesterday. "We had agreed that the players' own unions should deal with any citing complaints, to prevent the need for players and officials to remain in this country pending a hearing and to make the administration of justice easier for all concerned. However, the important issue is that any allegation of foul play is properly investigated and dealt with as thoroughly as possible. …