Ferris in clear for Paris
IRELAND flanker Stephen Ferris is free to play against France on Saturday after an Independent Disciplinary Committee deemed the yellow card handed out by English referee Wayne Barnes was punishment enough for his tackle on Wales lock Ian Evans in the Six Nations opener in Dublin last Sunday.
"We are delighted that Stephen has been totally exonerated of any wrongdoing by the disciplinary panel and that he is now available for selection against France," said Ireland team manager Mick Kearney.
Kearney also believes the decision seems to support the supposition from the Irish management team that the tackle was legal and, by extension, that Ireland's last-minute 23-21 loss to Wales at the Aviva Stadium came down to a mistake by referee Barnes.
"While we understand and fully support the stance to stamp out dangerous tackles in the game to make it safe at all levels, the disciplinary panel itself felt that the decision to award a penalty was incorrect and we also felt that it was a fair and legitimate tackle by Stephen," added Kearney.
"He is a hard and fair player and I think that his previous disciplinary record supports why we felt so strongly about his defence.
"The focus now for Stephen and the rest of the squad is to prepare for the game against France this weekend."
In contrast, Wales lock Bradley Davies will miss the rest of the Six Nations after he was suspended for seven weeks for his tip-tackle on Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan. Davies will be free to play on March 26.