Saracens have received a major boost ahead of their Heineken Champions Cup semi-final as flanker Michael Rhodes has had his citing dismissed at an independent disciplinary hearing. 

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The South African was man of the match in the quarter-final win over Leinster last Saturday but he learned on Monday that he had been cited for allegedly head-butting Robbie Henshaw in the second minute of the Aviva Stadium victory. 

A ban would have ruled Rhodes out of the semi-final trip to Paris but it was confirmed by tournament organisers EPCR on Tuesday night that the back row has been cleared to play and is available for Saracens selection to face Racing 92. 

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A statement from EPCR read: “Rhodes was alleged to have committed an act of foul play in that he struck the Leinster centre, Robbie Henshaw, with his head in the second minute of the match at the Aviva Stadium in contravention of Law 9.12 – striking with the head.

“The complaint was made by the match citing commissioner, Beth Dickens (Scotland). An independent disciplinary committee comprising Simon Thomas (Wales), Frank Hadden (Scotland) and Val Toma (Romania) heard evidence by video conference from Rhodes, who did not accept the charge.

“They also heard from the player’s legal representative, Paul Harris QC and from the EPCR disciplinary officer, Liam McTiernan. The Saracens director of rugby, Mark McCall, and the Saracens team manager, Warrick Lang, were also present.

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“The committee decided that Rhodes had committed an act of foul play. However, it was not proven to the required standard that contact had been made to Henshaw’s head. The committee concluded that the act of foul play did not warrant a red card and the citing complaint was therefore dismissed.

“Rhodes is free to play and EPCR has the right to appeal the decision.”

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