Hard to believe, huh? Sale Sharks and England winger, Mark Cueto, was handed down a nine week ban for eye-gouging today. Others were expecting this ban to be double in length, as 18 week bans are the norm for something of this magnitude. England has to be thankful for the limited ban as now Cueto will be ready and able to play in the Rugby World Cup which warm-up matches start in mid-June.
The reasoning for his short ban have been narrowed down to two issues. Firstly, the incident did not incur any serious damage to Christian Day whom he eye gouged and secondly it seemed as if he was provoked. If you look in the below video (24 seconds in is the eye-gouging) it looks as if Day kneed Cueto in his kidneys which may or may not have been on purpose.
The panel who levied the ban made the following points:
“We considered the substantial and compelling mitigating factors in this case, and particularly the written references.
“The player is clearly extremely well thought of at every level, from his continuing links with the amateur club where he started, through Sale Sharks and into the England playing and coaching squad.
“He is described as a model professional player who has always conducted himself in an exemplary fashion.
“The player has clearly understood the seriousness of the matter and its potential implications for his participation in the World Cup in New Zealand later in the year.
“He has faced up to what he has done and not sought to argue that it was purely accidental and to exculpate himself from any blame. He is clearly genuinely embarrassed and remorseful.”
The moral of the story is that Rugby does have a few rules.