Gouging Issues

20 01 2010

David Attoub, the Stade Francais prop, has been handed his sentence for this most heinous of rugby crimes. You may remember that Julien Dupuy has already been banned for 23 weeks for gouging in the same game back in December last year. Attoub by contrast to this shorter ban has been awarded a 70 week ban for his part in the malfeance.

Having reviewed the footage of the incident, there looks to be little doubt to us of his guilt. The problems come when you compare Dupuy and Attoub’s ban to previous sentences handed out.

Removing Attoub and Richard Nones (who was banned for 2 years in 1999) the average length of ban is 14 weeks and even within the group of banned players the sentences range from 3-26 weeks. Factor in the farce of Schalk Burger only receiving an 8 week ban for ‘contact with the facial area’ when even the blindest old bat could see he was gouging Luke Fitzgerald, and you have a system that is inconsistent and on occasions very unfair.

Bans are handed out almost arbitrarily by the Disciplinary Officer in charge, who in this case was represented by the European Club Rugby officer in the form of Jeff Blackett. Without meaning to cast any aspersions on Mr. Blackett, wouldn’t it be better to have an independent panel of officers paid by and responsible to the IRB? This way it can be regulated evenly worldwide and reactions such as Max Guazzini, Stade Francais President, when he described Attoub’s ban as “excessive, very political and anti-french” would be a thing of the past.

So speaketh the Compulsive Hooker.

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