Paul O'Connell has insisted ''there was no malice'' on his part in the alleged punching incident with Wales' Robert Sidoli in Ireland's final game of the RBS 6 Nations on Saturday.
The lock tangled off the ball with the Welsh second row during the second half of the 32-20 defeat that saw Wales clinch the Grand Slam, but he has told Irish rugby website www.irishrugby.ie: ''While the incident may have looked a little ugly, there was no malice or wilful intent involved on my part. Robert Sidoli and the referee accepted this in good spirits and once we shook hands, we both got on with it.''
Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan added: ''We have been notified of the citing and the hearing. I have spoken with Paul and I accept the interpretation that it was more of a frustrating and harmless scrap with no intent to hurt or injure on his part. Knowing Paul and his reputation, I accept that explanation for something that we all know would be out of character.''
O'Connell's hearing will take place at the Heathrow hotel in London on Wednesday.
As head coach Stuart Lancaster polishes the axe he will soon wield over his World Cup training squad, Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Baxter has backed Jack Nowell, Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie to be given a stay of execution.
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.