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Your NewsGouging - rugby's shame

Wednesday 16th December 2009
Gouging - rugby's shame

Apart from the cowardice and the potential to maim and blind, what I simply cannot comprehend is the stupidity of eye gouging. What on earth possessed France and Stade Francais scrum-half Julien Dupuy?
 
I never got remotely near the top level of the game so will never know the pressures of professional sport. Frustration or anger in the heat of battle at any level can easily lead to swinging a wild punch without thinking.
 
But gouging? It is pre-meditated. You have to engage brain and locate the eyes, or the ridiculous 'lesser' offence of 'around the eyes' as if your intent is merely to give your opponent a little tickle or stroke on the face to show your displeasure.
 
It is especially idiotic at professional level with a battalion of cameras covering the game, as they did in the Heineken Cup clash between Ulster and Stade Francais. Ulster and Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris was clearly annoying the hell out of the French by dint of being an outstanding and hard as nails blindside.
 
Unlike footballers, rugby players do not go bleating to the referee unless a shot is of the cheapest, ugliest kind, as gouging is. But Sky Sports viewers did not need the sight of Ferris pointing to his eyes to know what had happened. We got it in slow motion replay, several times.
 
Dupuy you are a fine player, but an idiot. We have seen several high profile incidents of gouging in recent months. If Dupuy is made a proper example of, so be it.
 
 
 
 
I know it is sacrilege to even suggest it, especially as I am a fully paid up member of the front-row union, but long-term could Sevens overtake the 15-a-side game in popularity?
 
Twenty20 cricket is diverting funds away from the longer form of the game and Sevens, especially now it has its deserved sit at the Olympic table, could do similar in rugby.
 
There is plenty of room for both, but boy I am enjoying the IRB World Sevens, glued to both the Dubai and George tournaments. New Zealand have won both, with Sherwin Stowers the new speed sensation from Counties Manukau running in tries for fun.
 
Kenya just make you proud of rugby's global reach. Their progress in the Sevens game in recent years has been one of sport's great stories and how fitting was it to see their star Collins Injera voted Kenya's Sportsman of the Year for 2009.
 
As for England they have come unstuck in successive quarter-finals against their World Cup nemesis last year in Dubai Samoa and then last weekend New Zealand. But in both tournaments they have shown exactly what they are made of mentally, as well as physically, bouncing back to win the Plate. It is a tribute to coach Ben Ryan too.
 
Sevens is so good, and easy, to watch. Yes there is stacks of space and less numbers to contend with, but these Sevens players could teach their 15-a-side mates a thing or two about clearing out rucks. However it is the speed we love. You see someone flying across the hot sands of Dubai or the scorched African turf and shout: "Who the hell is that?" The latest English gas man is Wasps teenager Christian Wade, who is astonishingly quick and can step too.
 
 
 
 
What a remarkable young man Stuart Mangan was. Paralysed from the head down after a rugby injury, Stuart was the subject of a BBC 3 documentary last week. His astonishing stoicism after the accident and positive outlook in coming to terms with his condition and seeking ways of leading as full a life as possible, despite catastrophic injuries, were truly inspirational. Stuart died this year after lung infections set in and he was unable to absorb oxygen. 3000 people attended services for Stuart in London, Dublin and his home town of Fermoy.

Posted by: , on December 16th 2009 on 12:57am
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