Rugby: Italy skipper banned for eye gouging

Italian captain Sergio Parisse has been suspended for eight weeks for eye gouging during his team's 6-27 rugby test loss to New Zealand in Christchurch last night.

The No 8's punishment was handed down by International Rugby Board (IRB) judicial officer Paul Tully after a hearing in Christchurch today.

Parisse had been cited by citing commissioner Peter Larter for making contact with the eyes or eye area of All Blacks lock Isaac Ross in the 58th minute of the test.

Tully viewed video footage of the incident, heard evidence from Parisse and his counsel and received reports from referee, Irishman George Clancy, and his assistants, Australians James Leckie and Ian Smith.

Under the IRB's prescribed sanctions for illegal and/or foul play, the entry point for sanctions is based on how serious the player's action was.

Tully said that the action fell within the lower range which has an entry point of 12 weeks.

However, while the action was found to be reckless it was not deemed intentional.

Tully said mitigating factors included the fact that the contact was brief and occurred in the open.

There was no injury to Ross' eye and the initial contact by Parisse was with Ross' cheek, before slipping into the eye.

Tully said Parisse had played 65 tests, including 18 as captain, and had not previously received either a yellow or red card.

Because Italy are now in their off-season, Parisse's suspension will start from August 2, the start of the Italian club season, and end on September 26.

- NZPA


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