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Friday 15 December 2017

Healy is asked to leave Blues flight

Leinster's South African tour hits another snag

Cian Healy during Leinster squad training in Cape Town. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Healy during Leinster squad training in Cape Town. Photo: Sportsfile

Leinster’s incident-packed mini-tour of South Africa hit another snag yesterday after Ireland prop Cian Healy was asked to leave their flight from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town.

The 29-year-old was reviewing Saturday’s game against the Southern Kings on his laptop after the passengers were told to stop using electronic equipment.

To the surprise of the player, his fellow squad members and passengers, a member of the South African Express cabin crew asked that the plane be turned around and the player was asked to leave when it returned to the terminal.

The police were not asked to get involved and after making an apology Healy was booked on to the next flight with the same airline later that afternoon.

He arrived and linked up with the squad, trained earlier today and remains in contention to play against the Cheetahs on Friday night.

“It was an unfortunate incident, apologies were made and we moved on,” Leinster chief executive Mick Dawson said in Cape Town.

A statement from Leinster Rugby confirmed the incident.

“Leinster Rugby can confirm that Cian Healy was asked to leave yesterday afternoon’s flight from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town,” it read.

“The issue related to a misunderstanding around the use of a laptop during the approach to take off.

“Cian disembarked the plane and took the next available flight to Cape Town with the same airline.

“Cian apologised sincerely to all concerned at the time for any inconvenience caused.

“He re-joined the squad last night in Cape Town and trained today in Bishop’s College.”

The incident follows Leinster’s issues at immigration last week when captain Isa Nacewa and scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park were refused entry because they did not have the correct visas.

The province have accepted responsibility for that incident and the pair have returned to South Africa with the correct paper-work and both are likely to feature in Bloemfontein on Friday night.

Dawson has revealed the lengths to which Leinster went to get the New Zealanders into South Africa at the highest levels of government.

“The visa thing was really unfortunate. We weren’t aware that the rule had changed last January and the information we had was that we didn’t need visas,” he said.

“We put our hands up, we made a mistake. We won a court case down here, saying they could stay, and then they were thrown out of the country by the minister.

“When we went home we had visas within 12 hours. It’s unfortunate.”

Leinster are in South Africa to play two Guinness PRO14 games.

Despite losing Nacewa and Gibson-Park, they secured a bonus point win over the Southern Kings and hope to follow it up with a similar result against the Cheetahs on Friday night.

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