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The insanity of eye gouging

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John Beattie | 19:18 UK time, Saturday, 19 December 2009

If you try to blind someone in a game of rugby, you should be banned for life.

I don't know the legal hot-water test here, but I saw a couple of eye gouging incidents on the telly this summer that the authorities ducked out of like pathetic little children when, actually, those high-profile players should have been ejected from the game.

And there's a recent one, too, by Stade Francais scrum-half Julien Dupuy.

I thought rugby was stronger than football and could send out a tough message. Now I am not so sure.

I fired up the new motorbike and took it for its first spin earlier this morning. Nothing like two wheels to clear your mind.

Eye gouging. Eye gouging. I used my eyes to start the bike, help me balance the thing, and scan the road ahead.

I tried to imagine someone running their nail along my cornea. I then imagined punching them and had to come back in to settle down.

Now, we've all done silly things in our lives. I think most rugby players can think back to episodes in their playing careers that, well, embarrass them a little. Stupid things.

If I am to confess here and now, I called people a few names, I hit people - with little lasting damage thankfully - and I did even worse on the odd occasion.

But never, ever, did I try to blind anyone.

You see, I am reading a book called "Confessions of a Rugby Mercenary" by John Daniell, a New Zealander who played seasons of rugby in France, moving from club to club as if on his travels, with each move earning him marginally higher money than before.

I don't want to spoil the book for you but he talks about being gouged in French rugby and his prose lingers deliciously on that moment when a player realises that some 19-stone brute was slipping a finger into his eye.

It makes me shiver. And then, in what I thought was the most shocking bit of the book, he found himself so absorbed with, and by, the culture that he resorted to gouging someone himself.

Could you gouge someone? Could you?

Could you feel so angry, or perhaps so calculating, that you would be driven to find an opponent, open your palm, navigate to his face, find his eye, and then actually try to part his eyelids to get your finger in there and scratch his eyeball?

Am I alone? This is verging on the insane.

We perhaps talk too often about the difference between rugby and football. In the latter, football players argue with the referee and feign injuries as an established part of their 90-minute routine.

So, football at most levels has kids from four years old to 40 arguing with referees and feigning injuries.

Kids copy what they see. What they see in sport they bring to society.

And now, rugby children, thanks to some very high-profile pieces of gouging, will copy what they are seeing. Until they are gouged themselves and can't see any more.

Rugby has to give life bans to anyone involved in gouging.


  • Comment number 1.

    I agree completely with this article, gouging is rugby's version of football's spitting or nipping. Whether gougers should be banned for life is perhaps debatable but the idea of a minimum (lengthy) ban should be adopted.

  • Comment number 2.

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  • Comment number 3.

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  • Comment number 4.

    I couldn't agree more. Its only happened to me once in 15 yrs of playing and can still clearly recall the feeling of repugnance and fear. The game is tough enough. Life bans are the only suitable punishment. When will the ruling bodies finally begin to show clear signals that this is unacceptable?

  • Comment number 5.

    You are so right. Deliberate eye gouging should be a straight life ban.

    One word of caution though. I got poked in the eye twice in my playing days - Once was an entire accident and although it hurt and was as scary, I would not have wanted the other player (whom I still know 20 years on) punished unfairly.
    As for the other time I cannot put in print what should have happened to him.

    Provided that it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt that the incident was deliberate, a life ban should be automatic. I have always been an advocate of what happens on the pitch stays on the pitch, but,for this particular heinous crime a referral to the police to bring criminal charges should also be automatic.

  • Comment number 6.

    John, I don't always agree with your opinions (see your article about the Barbarians) but on this occasion I couldn't agree more.

    If Schalk Burger had been banned for life - thrown out of rugby - for his gouging against the Lions, I am sure it would have had a lasting and very much desired affect on rugby players worldwide. And I think he should have been banned, not only from playing but from rugby - all rugby.

    Bob Dwyer once said that 'It is possible to have young men play civilised rugby. It is up to the coaches not to allow the animalistic spirit to dominate.' I think about that every time I coach young men.

    If the administrators won't protect the game by handing out life bans, do you agree that coaches should not select known gougers? In other words, don't coaches and selectors have a responsibility here as well?

  • Comment number 7.

    I agree with your article wholeheartedly John.
    My worst memory of playing youth rugby (which was otherwise thoroughly enjoyable) was being stuck in the middle of a driving maul, head down, and being gouged by an opposition player. Unable to move my arms due to physical bind of the maul, my only option while the maul was moving forward and my eye was being given a good working over, was to break the rules myself - sliding my head up and biting down hard on the finger of the offender. Something that, to this day, I'm ashamed of. But I had no option. Being in that totally vulnerable position, where the vision in my right eye was moments away from geing taken away from me, I just to take this drastic action, or suffer more pain and permanent damage.

    Gouging is a disgusting act of premeditated violence that should NEVER be allowed to happen on a rugby field. And players who ae caught in the act should be banned for 4 years to Life. Dupuy, and Burger back in the summer, knew exactly what they were doing. They needed to be made an example of...not given leniant sentences.

    Shame on the ERC and IRB for not giving them longer bans - the evidence is there for us all to see.

  • Comment number 8.

    John, I detest eye-gouging as much as you. It is a blemish on the game of Rugby and players who eye gouge should be given at least a 3 year ban. However, players will keep doing it if managers like Peter Devilliers continue saying that "its part of the game".

  • Comment number 9.

    Paulr6 - I don't think there is much doubt between deliberate and accidental contact with eyes.

    I played for many years and had the occasional accidental poke in the eye but there was absolutely no doubt about the only one time I was deliberately gouged!

  • Comment number 10.

    I think I will always remember the time I got gouged playing youth rugby and the fact for flipping the nasty little cheat and punching him squarely in the mouth I was given a red card and he, despite my clearly bleeding eye, was allowed to continue.

  • Comment number 11.

    Thanks for these comments

    Yes, the reality is that all rugby players know exactly where there feet, hands, and heads are at any given time. I am told that one of the defences for eye gouging is that the person accused of the act can debate the definition of eye and drag up all kind of technicalities.

    The trouble now is just how you take it forward and ensure that an eye gouger does get banned.

    I so hate it being a modern, high profile, embarrassing part of rugby.


  • Comment number 12.

    I was gouged for the first time earlier this season. Came as a bit of a shock and I ended up lashing out who I thought was the perpetrator. Unfortunately I got the wrong bloke but he didn't seem to take it too badly after I accused him of gouging.

    I was further shocked by the guy who had done it pointing to himself, grinning and telling me it was him. Pity I didn't get the chance to smash the bugger in the tackle during the game.

    There's absolutely no defence for it. You know what your doing at all times and it is simply not on. If I get a bit of shoe pie for hanging onto the ball too long in a ruck, fair enough. If there is the odd punch thrown after a heated but of play then, not great but it happens, if someone sneakily works their hand onto your face then scratches a dirty nail across your cornea... a ban for life is perfectly acceptable and certainly preferable to the outcome that would come in most club games.

  • Comment number 13.

    i have played rugby for 25 years and love the game with a passion. however i do not understand the mentality of anyone who feels the need to eye-gouge.

    I do remember there ware rumours of eye-gouging years ago when two of French front row were sent off against England. I bet Brian Moore wasnt innocent, but neither was he guilty of gouging.

    I was shocked recently when i watched a county under-16s match. When one county was repetedly accused of gouging. Has the damage been done and now kids have already begun to copy what they see the so-called stars getting away with?


  • Comment number 14.

    Any one who deliberately gouges another player, deserves a couple of seasons out of the game minimum. No exceptions, no excuses, no possible justification for their actions.

    As some one who has been at the bottom of a ruck with both arms pinned having his opposite number stick a finger in my eye socket and try to pry my eye out, only to be detracted by me head butting him. The person was either mentally unstable or impaired by ephedrine or some other stimulant.

    I can not possibly describe my emotions other than absolute terror switched with blind range when his finger left my eye socket. It resulted in a mass brawl, a request that the player be removed from the field, a statement that if he wasn't removed that we will make sure he didn't complete the game, then 60 minutes of anything but a sporting game of rugby after both the referee and opposite team captain failed to take action.

    The unwritten rule when I started playing was everyone should be able to go to work the next day. These perpetrators need to be removed from the game. Any incident of this kind in any game changes the whole of the game and the relationship between the teams & even the clubs for years to come. Get rid of them, they ruin the game.

  • Comment number 15.

    i agree with john, however until all nations agree nothing will happen. South Africa are the main culprits regarding un acceptable play , the pathetic ban on Burger and weak refereeing / help from the touch judges in the lions test, clearly indicates self interest . i am sure this applies in both north and southern hemispheres

  • Comment number 16.

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  • Comment number 17.

    Nice choice of bike big man! I don't agree with the current perception in rugby that punching someone is ok but eye gouging is not. All acts of gratuitous violence should be punished heavily - including that punch on Jock Hobbs during the 1983 Lions v New Zealand series...

  • Comment number 18.

    The Stade Francais official has called the penalty for Dupuy "anti-French." Since the penalty was for eye-gouging, which was proved by the videos and the club's own punishment and apologies, then the logical extension of the SF official's comment is that eye-gouging is a French activity and, as such, pro-French, while penalties for it are anti-French.
    The SF official should be fined and punished for his attack on the banning agency, in the same way a coach or manager is penalized for attacking a referee.

  • Comment number 19.

    Of course, severe punishment for eye-related attacks is rational and should be mandated. I played for 15 years and never did it, nor had it done to me. I believe that is because, for the large majority, it is an inconceivable act in the spirit and traditions of the game. That some in the past have turned to it is not a justification, simply a cowardly perversity. Cowardice, especially in its physical forms, is definable as something you would not do if you could be seen to do it, and could never justify if you did. As the man said, rugby is tough enough played by the rules. But some identified players see themselves as above and/or beyond the rules. Their choice to operate outside the rules and intentionally cause damage to another player disqualifies them to participate in the game those rules govern. That is simple logic and ethics.

    Yes, South African rugby appears beyond the pale when the coach of its national side evidently condones-by-evasion those acts and a style of play that damage the game and the welfare of its players. This applies to any union or official who does not condemn outright these things.

  • Comment number 20.

    Good man John, all the supporting remarks here should be forwarded to the IRB, ERC and national bodies.
    I feel there should be a second charge "contact in or around eye area" where this lesser charge would act as a deterant for hands on the face.
    No mention of fingers in the mouth. This is another horrible cowardly act and merits severe punishment also.
    Also, there should be a single European Citing Board for all competitions. This would apply similar punishments to all players irrespective of competition. Certain Boards have been known to go easy on players before 6-Nations. Local citing boards in Magners league makes a farce of the system.
    Lots stil needed to be done. Weel done John stating with highlighting the awfuk scurge on ojr game that is eye gouging.

  • Comment number 21.

    From somebody who has been a victim of this, i can tell you it really does give you a bigger picture of how much your eyes mean to you. I ended up in hospital to have my left eye checked over. Turns out that i now have a lazy left eye because of the damage they did. Any type of incident in a rugby game involved hands and a face should be delt with a red card followed by a serious investigation fromt he RFU. Little punch up's happen, its a part of the game. Going for the eyes is not a reactive thing. It requires you to focus on doing it. It's calculated. It need to be stopped.

  • Comment number 22.

    Bodiroga - you are so right, nobody walks onto a rugby pitch accepting that they might be attacked. I don't remember attacking Jock Hobbs but I am ashamed of any act of violence with which I was involved I don't think I punched him but I hit a bloke in the Wairarapa Bush game. Terrible, but ancient history.....and I am not proud.

    What amazes me is just how many people have been subjected to eye gouging.........

    It is strange, insn't it, but we start to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable violence. Is punching someone acceptable, but blinding them not.

    The older I get the more I thank TV for driving foul play out of rugby. Administrators need to be stronger with their punishments though. I don't know about you all but we knew who the nutters were....


  • Comment number 23.

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  • Comment number 24.

    I agree that gouging should be severly punished.

    However, I am in total disagreement with what seems to be majority opinion that other dirty play is acceptable and part of the game.
    John himself explains that the odd punch here or there is all in a day's work.

    This to me is irresponsible and immoral. Yes, rugby is an aggressive and physical game. There is no need to play dirty, be it a covert punch or eye gouge. I have no qualms about a bone crunching tackle or surging hit in a scrum - as long as these are all within the laws of the game.

    Sure punching may seem less extreme than gouging. But it is still dirty play, and by implicitly 'legalising' it, you set a dangerous precedent for any other dirty play. Furthermore, if one player is the victim of violent dirty play, I could quite understand that in the 'moment' and while the red mist envelopes reasoning, he (or she) could understandably reciprocate with gouging.

    Lastly, the common opinion here is that punching borders on playful and is not maligned or dangerous. Well, that is unacceptably irresponsible. Imagine a player being punched, resulting in concussion which could then inadverantly lead to a serious injury later in the game like paralysis. How would you as the perpetrator of the 'playful punch', face this person's family and explain that although you were partly the cause of his paralysis, it was just a jestful innocent part of the game? Worse still, a high proportion of neck breaks are caused by collapsed scrums. These could easily be the result of punching a frontranker in the scrum.

    As a closing note, while I condemn Burger's gouging... not all South Africans are dirty. I for one am one of them :)

  • Comment number 25.

    I don't think life bans can be justified as it will inevitably ruin promising careers for moments of madness or for completely accidental contact with someone's eyes. Of course I couldn't imagine the awful feeling of being gouged and find it repulsive but I would rather pundits didn't come up with such provocative articles without fully thinking them through. If a minimum ban were set at 5 years that would be sufficiently preventative as I think an average pro career probably lasts around 8 -10 yrs.

    Often when a lineout turns into a maul the jumper (and opposing player who's tried to sack the maul) are left upright in the maul scrapping for positional advantage in the drive and hands can go anywhere in the melee. Obviously there should be no contact with any part of a player's face but once hands are on a face the eye sockets are a natural hollow where fingers can slip due to the sweat and movement, not malice.

  • Comment number 26.

    I completely agree. Gouging is the action of a coward, there is no place for cowards in rugby. As fans and players we pride ourselves on the ability to play fairly and within the spirit of the game. We have all made errors of judgement whilst playing due to the physicality of the game but the few who resort the deplorable act of gouging should be permanently removed from our honourable game. Without the respect for our opposition, rugby ceases to be a sport we can be proud of.

  • Comment number 27.

    Gouging is a terrible, cowardly act, perpetrated by those who don't have the skill or intelligence to play rugby properly. I played in Scotland for 17 years and was only gouged once (play long enough and you're always going to come across some scumbag or nutter!). I am now playing my 1st season in France and ,although it has not happened to me personally, gouging is widespread and commonplace. I don't know what the answer is, but if you banned unsavoury indiscipline in French Rugby, there would be no teams left!

  • Comment number 28.

    For what its worth I too decry punching and other unlawful violence in Rugby but there is a qualified difference. A punch is often a moments decision to lash out. In games things happen, sometimes even by accident :0) I seem to remember my plums getting some unwanted attention "by accident" so I responded by punching the offender in the face also "by accident" Gouging is entirely more calculated. You have to find the eyes, then attack them and it simply cannot happen by accident. You also have to go into the game with the mentality that it's O.K to do. What is apparent from the Depuy incident is that he knew what he was doing, looked for the officials and then had another go. A life ban would have been entirely appropriate.

    Failing that I suggest removing some of the other policing from the game and let the players sort it out among themselves. I actually greatly admire Ferris for his restraint. If that had been me and I was Ferris's size I would have battered Depuy and damn the consequences. Gouging and spitting, two things that I'd never accept.

    I believe the real issue is with the inconsistent treatment of gougers. The most egregious example being that of Schalk Burger. Having been caught absolutely bang to rights on live television with his fingers in Fitzgerald's eyes he received a quite disgracefully paltry 8 week ban. His coaches reaction? Defence of the player and the practice itself. PDV should have been looking at a serious IRB sanction. What happened? Nothing. The shame of it? Burger is a tremendous player when he isn't involved in such stupidity and would have been a loss to the game. I think I'd go for a 6 month automatic ban for a first offence, then any repeat offender is banned for life.

  • Comment number 29.

    I agree with everything that this article says. But maybe it would be an idea to ban the player from the competition that he commited the offense in. (e.g. If the player commits the offense in the premiership, then he is banned for life from the premiership) This would cause clubs to sell on players that are guility of commiting these offences and also would act as a deterrant to other clubs (obviously certain players would be forced to move countries to carry on playing domestic rugby). This would also force players to lose their earnings possibly indefinatly. As a cricketer, when we commit any offense we are often dropped from our club sides + banned and then we are forced to earn our way in the game again. A simple ban does not stop these players from instantly re-joining the 1st XV as soon as the ban duration is up.

  • Comment number 30.

    Based on past experience what I am about to say will be remove by moderators for no reason what so ever. SO for the Moderators I suggest rather than hiding behind "house rules" you explain why you have banned something if only to show you do not know what you are reading.

    Dupuy has been banned for making contact with the eye area twice and received 24 weeks. It is clearly not enough. He did not attempt to gouge (thank heaven for small mercies) but if you look at the pictures he rakes his hand across the eye area of Ferris and then checks to make sure the officials cannot see and does it again. He should have been banned for a year with the warning that anything of a similar clearly deliberate nature will result in a lifetime ban.

    PLayers will accidently connect with the eye area and sometimes the "contact with the eye area" was in fact nothing more dangerous than a push to the head so there does need to be a range of punishments. But clear gouging and deliberately raking across the eyes is very dangerous and there needs to be a signal from the authorities that the guilty will find their careers at an end

  • Comment number 31.

    Very rare that such a level of concordance between posters on a BBC Sport blog is reached, but quite right that it should be so in this case.

    In a game as physical as rugby, where dominance in terms of strength is one of the key battlefields it is understandable (though not right) that on occasions this physicality will take place outside the laws of the game. Any sport with similar levels of physicality, e.g. Ice Hockey, American Football, pretty much any Gaelic sport!, knows that there will be the odd confrontation and - while not condoning this - manges it appropriately. As someone has already pointed out, a punch can be thrown in the heat of the moment. Doesn't make it right - and the perpetrators generally receive their punishment - but in the context of the physicality of a game of rugby, it is understandable.

    Gouging however, takes a degree of premeditation. Think about the thought process involved.....

    1 - I imagine that a player will almost certainly have decided in advance that he is prepared to gouge someone - it is simply not a natural instinct and for those who feel it has been done 'in the heat of the moment' then I pity anyone close to them. For things to be done in the heat of the moment they need to be an extension of our natural character and behaviour. So, I would argue that the perpetrator may have been prepared to gouge minutes before the incident even takes place.

    2 - Then you have to look for the opportunity. A ruck? Maul? A tackle on the blindside? The player knows the ref mustn't see it, so this needs to be considered. Again, premeditation.

    3 - Once he's got the opportunity, he has to carry it out. Think about it: sticking your finger into someone's eye socket aint that easy! Its only a small gap. Once you've got your finger there, you then have to apply the pressure!

    A punch can be thrown in a split second (and can be easily responsded to if the victim is so inclined). A gouge is a different kettle of fish. I think a lifetime ban, where the proof is absolute, would be appropriate.

  • Comment number 32.

    I agree. It's an absolutely shocking and cowardly offence that has no part in the game or any walk of life for that matter.

    It seems to be happening more and more in today's game and is becoming dangerously close to becoming something that people accept happens.

    I would prefer a year long ban for first offence of eye-gouging. If the player does it for a second time then they should be banned for life.

  • Comment number 33.

    I completely agree if it is deliberate. the trouble is how difficult it is to prove that the act was done deliberatly. The fact it happens inside rucks and mauls where hands can go anywhere often brings an element of doubt as to the delibracy of it. It would be possible if not easy for pushing at the back of a ruck to push your hand into someone's eye. this is why those deliberatly prepared to do the crime hide it in rucks - so they can plausibly claim innocense. This is where we need to make sure all of the top flight games have enough cameras to pick up these incidents

  • Comment number 34.

    Dear John,

    I'm writing to say its over...
    I have lost faith in the relationship...
    its just no working for me...


    When Trevor Brennan can get a LIFE time ban for walloping a spectator
    Then the actions of Berger, Dupuy etc etc should be in the same category.

    Its down right Grievous Boldly Harm and should be met with the same punishment as the afore mentioned Mr Brennan.

    But hey... Trevor Brennan was not such a big NAME... He was just a club player nearing the end of his playing days so what the hell. They can make an example of him and ruin the rest of his life, while slapping the the wrists of well known players with 8 week / 6 month bans.

    I really am losing my faith in the sport.

  • Comment number 35.

    To attempt to damage someones sight by gouging them in the eyes is a criminal offense. When the cameras have the evidence recorded, it is also an offense to suppress evidence - Why do the police authorities not prosecute players who are found guilty of the offense. It becomes public knowledge when a player is banned for gouging. The evidence is also recorded on film.

  • Comment number 36.

    Putting my lawyer hat on for a minute, the problem with a severe ban for eye gouging is the difficulty of proving in intent.

    Whatever one feels about Brennan's ban, we can easily see his intent from his actions. He intended to march into the stand and chin someone.

    In eye gouging cases it might not always be so clear. We have all had fingers in the eye playing sport, and most of the time it was an accident...and reflex hand off that got you in the eye etc...

    The disciplinary commission in the Burger incident got around it with a mealy mouthed ruling talking about hands making contact with the face.

    In the case of Dupuy, I think we can clearly infer his intent from his actions. He did it twice and had a clear view of Ferris' face.

    Personally, I would have a 6 month ban for "prolonged contact with the face area," and a ban of 3 years for the first offense of deliberate intent to make contact with the eye area and a second offense is a life ban.

    I think intent would have to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence of the face contact and 1st eye contact offense. A life ban should require proof of intent beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • Comment number 37.

    I find it incredible that Dupuy is appealing the ban. From the images I saw, it appeared so pre-meditated, in one incident he wasn't even part of a ruck/maul (not that this should be used in defence).

    Isn't the upper end of the punishment scale 2 or 3 years? How then can the ERC claim that this is at the top end and not give a ban towards the top end of the scale. Anyone, simply anyone who is found to be gouging should have an automatic minimum 6 month ban, increasing from there.

    Whilst I don't agree with any form of violence in the sport there are a couple of tactics engaged by individuals that could cause serious, long term injuries (spear tackling, gouging) and these are the ones that governing bodies should be quite clear in what happens in terms of punishment if players are found guilty of carrying out such activities.

    There is no excuse for this sort of behaviour and the governing bodies need to grasp the bull by the horns and do something significant about it.

  • Comment number 38.

    I wouldn't expect any even half decent administration from those that run the game when it comes to violence. These are the same people that introduced the set of rules that have turned rugby into kicking tennis. These are the same people who idlely stood by when BOD was so blatantly spear tackled (which could easily have been a broken neck) in NZ.
    The refs are ineffective - as the NZ linesman showed with the Burger gouging - in fact the actual referee in that instance was weak.
    Lets not let the clubs/regions off here either. What precisely do they do to eradicate eye gouging. Pretty well nothing.
    Lets not let the players off either. Jennings gets done for gouging and we have the unedifying sight of the Lions Captain speaking up for the bloke.
    So Administrators, officals, clubs/regions and players are not that keen on addressing the issue. Um ...... John, me and the other bloggers are going have to wait a long time for rugby to clean itself up on this one.

  • Comment number 39.

    I don't always agree with your articles John, but in this case I agree with you 100%.

    My feelings are in line will all other posters here and feel that Dupuys actions should have warranted a far longer ban. But as long as these cowards are let off the hook again and again by the governing bodies it will continue and worsen.

    So fellow irate bloggers and lovers of the sport, what is it that WE can do about cleaning up the game and making the governing bodies understand our disgust?

    In the week where one small Facebook group beat the Simon Cowen X-Factor machine to the Christmas No1 should we not take their lead, rather then bleating on a blog?

    I am no techie, but if its possible to set up a similar group or have an Online Petition setup to have Dupuys Ban lengthened at his outrageous appeal then it would be a good start. Then perhaps it would be possible to make the rule makers and review panels understand that we the viewers,fans, players, ex-players alike dont want cheats and cowards playing our game any more.

    Keep up the pressure via the press John!

  • Comment number 40.

    This is a brilliant article and really draws attention to something that should be cause for a far greater punishment than is currently dealt out. I find it very funny that Dupuy admitted it, and issued an apology, and is now appealing it - it smacks of him just trying to get a more lenient sentence, but then when he didn't, just throwing his toys out of the pram!

    Also, although clearly setting a bad example for youngsters, Matt Stevens was banned for two years for taking an illegal drug, which did no damage to anyone else but himself, was not performance enhancing, yet is judged to be more serious than potentially blinding someone. I disagree completely, and think a far stronger message needs to be sent out to eye gougers - starting with upholding Dupuy's ban, but introducing far tougher bans in the future! As said in the article, eye gouging also sends out a terrible example to children playing the game at lower levels, therefore why not a two year minimum ban for this action?

  • Comment number 41.


    You make a really good point about banning someone for, in effect, damaging himself recreationally in the case of Matt Stevens.

    The bigger point does come about though when you start to think about acceptable and unacceptable levels of violence. Someone up above me here says that I don't object to punching in rugby. Actually, I find the sight of two or more grown men punching each other totally pathetic. I punched people when I played, but I am ashamed that I did and and that, in the process, any young kid watching might have thought this was a great part of rugby.

    The tackle and the ruck are the two contact points for players aside from set scrums, and that's the way it should stay. Any punching, head kicking, or gouging is unacceptable.

    Dagath, interesting angle and I see your point in Trevor Brennan but, again, attacking anyone outside the rules of the game is hard to defend but, as you say, it's the difference....why should one hard working Irish forward be banned, and some sneaky high profile lads get away with things?


  • Comment number 42.

    Once upon a time reports of "contact in the eye area" were very rare.

    What we don't know is whether that was because it didn't happen, or because any misdemeanour was "sorted out" at the next ruck.

    Either way it is an abomination and must be stamped on (oops!) by the imposition of meaningful punishment - perhaps 3 months minimum.

  • Comment number 43.

    Im shocked dupuy wants to cut his punishment. He should realise himself that it is not an eye gouging contest or some boxing ring. I can tollerate the fighting, tempers will flair during matches, but to eye gouge is a shocker. I will be happy seeing dupuy in the stands for the rest of this season, no matter how much i admire his rise to the top of french rugby from being a second choice bayonne half back.

  • Comment number 44.

    Some years ago, in the other code, I had the misfortune of getting my head in the way of someone else's fingers. This led to them embedding their nails in the area surrounding my eye. I, not unnaturally I thought, did what I could to dislodge this person. He and I both got sin binned. I got binned for retaliation. Apparently I was meant to ask nicely. Here is another area that needs some work. I know this examply is from league and not union, but having played both the ethos is still pretty similar - no retaliation. Fair enough, but the discipline should reflect the intention. Retailiation, or - as i prefer to see it in this case - self defense, should not be treated with the same severity as gouging.
    Last word - gouging is wrong, so wrong it deserves life bans. Possibly more.


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