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Tyrone Howe: Lee free to go on the rampage against England at Twickers

We almost had another example of a crass lack of understanding from rugby’s authorities as Welsh fullback, Lee Byrne, could have paid a ridiculous personal price for being a 16th man in the Ospreys win over Leicester Tigers in round six of the Heineken Cup.

Byrne could have been ruled out of Wales’ massive Six Nations opener against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

In terms of the blame game, the incident still seems to be rather fudged in terms of what were the exact sequence of events or how the complete breakdown in communication came about.

No matter, the player was not at fault — it was clearly a blunder between the Ospreys representatives and some of the refereeing officials down on the touchline.

Therefore, it was right that Byrne should not have been punished in the shape of a ban.

A ban could have affected his ability to represent his country, win an international cap, and if we are being hard-nosed about it, his earning potential.

Out of all the sanctions proposed, the least likely was a replay and I cannot believe that this was ever up for discussion. Ospreys, as a club, have paid a price by being fined, but Lee Byrne was being used as a scapegoat to mitigate mistakes made by officialdom.

Thankfully common sense has prevailed and Byrne will be able to take his place against England — but it has certainly not helped the Welsh preparation.

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