'Eye-gouger' banned for 15 weeks
Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini has been banned for 15 weeks after he admitted making contact with Irish prop Cian Healy’s eyes during their rugby World Cup Pool C clash in Dunedin, tournament organisers said on Tuesday.
Ghiraldini, who maintained his actions were not deliberate, faced a hearing in Auckland over the incident.
Judicial officer Bruce Squire of New Zealand said after he had reviewed all the evidence that he felt the contact had been deliberate and the offending was “at the top end”.
Healy was penalised for retaliating after the incident in their 36-6 victory at Stadium Otago on Sunday, though television replays then showed Ghiraldini had touched Healy’s eyes as the pair wrestled at the breakdown.
A general guildeline for dealing with eye incidents suggests a ban of 24 weeks but Squire reduced the suspension to 15 because of the hooker’s previously unblemished record, organisers said.
Ghialrdini, who has 48 hours to appeal the sanction, can resume playing again on Jan. 18, 2012.