Cooper Side-Steps Suspension

 Aug 28,2011
Written by: Delon Cheketri

Australia flyhalf Quade Cooper was cleared Sunday of a kneeing charge following his side's 25-20 victory over New Zealand in the Tri-Nations decider, less than a fortnight before the World Cup.

Cooper was cited by SANZAR for striking New Zealand captain Richie McCaw in the face with his knee during the second half of the match in Brisbane on Saturday.

A guilty verdict and suspension would have seen the 23-year-old miss the early matches of the World Cup, but SANZAR Judicial Officer Jannie Lubbe dismissed the foul play charge after reviewing video footage of the incident.

Cooper admitted his knee had made contact with McCaw's face but said the contact was accidental as he was getting up from the ground and he had no intention of striking his opponent.

After hearing evidence from Wallabies coach Robbie Deans and submissions by Cooper's legal counsel, Lubbe ruled that Cooper's account was in line with video footage of the incident.

He concluded that on the available evidence he was not satisfied on a balance of probability that Cooper was guilty and dismissed the citing.

McCaw was not injured in the incident and said after the match: "I didn't see it but I felt it. I don't know if it was intentional or an accident."

When asked about the incident at the post-match press conference, Cooper said: "I can't remember any incident, but that's rugby.

"It's a contact sport. Bodies are colliding left, right and centre. There's a lot of niggle going on out in the field."

The Wallabies' win over the All Blacks gave them their first Tri-Nations title in 10 years.



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