World Rugby deputy: Owen Franks dodged a bullet

World Rugby deputy Gus Pichot has made it clear that All Blacks prop Owen Franks dodged a bullet when he escaped a suspension for an alleged eye gouging incident earlier in the international season.

Pichot arrived this week in Europe ahead of a series of important meetings about major issues confronting rugby including its lax international eligibility laws, concussion and the global season.

But the former Argentina Pumas test halfback has also made it obvious he believes in lengthier bans for foul play.

Earlier this year, England's Chris Ashton was sat down for 10 weeks, missing the 2016 Six Nations, and Pumas lock Mariano Galarza got nine weeks after being ruled out of the 2015 Rugby World Cup after one match. Both were for eye-gouging offences.

Critics say Franks should have received a similar ban for an incident involving Wallaby Kane Douglas in the first Bledisloe Cup match of the season in Wellington.

"For Franks not to be cited when others are banned, that says to me something is wrong with the system," Pichot told British reporters before promising action.

"We will change things. We want to get more rugby knowledge in there and we will reduce the entry point (currently 12 weeks) for that offence (gouging) as well as for some others.

"There is contact with the eye area and then there is gouging. There has been lots of complaint on social media. We have to take notice of that. Of course you can't respond to everything said but you have to be aware of your brand being damaged. Why is a red card for one high tackle and not another? People watch on TV and are baffled. We need to sort this. We have to be consistent in what we do, and we are not."

Discussions on the global season, with the aim of aligning the seasons, have been in motion for many months. There are still ongoing negotiations but Pichot has a warning for any future projects.

"Once we agree a calendar, that is it, we have to enforce it," said Pichot. "We can't then have a world club championship between Europe and Super Rugby added or a global play-off between Six Nations and the Rugby Championship.

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