French refuse to comment on gouging allegations

By Hayley Hannan, Daniel Richardson

In this screenshot from the World Cup final broadcast, All Black captain Richie McCaw can be seen reacting to a possible eye gouge during the game.
In this screenshot from the World Cup final broadcast, All Black captain Richie McCaw can be seen reacting to a possible eye gouge during the game.

The French rugby team is refusing to comment on allegations Richie McCaw was eye-gouged during Sunday's Rugby World Cup final - other than to claim the All Blacks skipper kneed a Frenchman in the face earlier in the match.

Rugby commentator Keith Quinn told Radio New Zealand this morning the All Blacks captain was the victim of eye-gouging towards the end of the game and said French skipper Thierry Dusautoir was "right there''.

"It was clearly seen on TV. McCaw needed attention from medical staff.''

He said the French captain, last night named International Rugby Board Player of the Year, offered no condolences.

French rugby team media manager Lionel Rossigneux said the team was not going to comment on the allegations, but said "a knee hit the face of Morgan Parra by Richie McCaw''.

Earlier in the game McCaw's knee made contact with French first-five Morgan Parra's head in a tackle. Parra left the field after the knock.

Rossineux and the team were checking out of their Auckland hotel today and he said they would not talk about the allegations.

"The service of the French team is that we are not doing any comment on that. We just found it a bit sad that after the Rugby World Cup that there is still some stories in the newspaper rather than celebrating the All Blacks' victory.''

The IRB confirmed the citing period from the game was over and said it received no complaints.

The New Zealand Rugby Union and the All Blacks both declined to comment, other than to confirm no complaints had been made to the IRB.

Quinn is standing by the allegations, claiming a source close to the All Blacks confirmed it.

"The only video that I've seen is the same as what you could see if you were watching match coverage. But I made the remark it looked like eye-gouging yesterday in a social situation and had confirmation from a source, which I'm saying is close to the New Zealand team, that eye-gouging took place.''

Video evidence of the ruck in question doesn't provide any conclusive evidence that gouging took place, although McCaw brushed his eye when he got up in the 77th minute and appeared groggy.

"I think more needs to be investigated about the incident,'' Quinn told Radio New Zealand. "The illustrious awarded player of the year surely involves elements of fair play.

"Dusautoir was right there but didn't attempt to offer any concern about about McCaw's condition.''

Quinn thought the incident explained why New Zealand and French players didn't embrace at the end of the game, and why there was little or no mention about the French team in the speeches after the final.

Former All Black captain Stu Wilson said more details would emerge if the alleged incident happened but Dusautoir was a worthy winner of the player of the year award.

"This incident, if there is an incident, and there's merit in bringing it up, will surface and then he'll get banged for it,'' he told Radio New Zealand.

"But you can't take that one incident into the award which was taken over a season.''

- APNZ

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