Rebels lock gets 10-week gouging ban

Melbourne Rebels lock Adam Byrnes was on Sunday found guilty of eye gouging and suspended for 10 weeks of the Super 15 season, Sanzar (South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby) said.

A Sanzar judicial hearing found Byrnes guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (m) for making contact with the eye after he was cited during the Rebels’ match against the New South Wales Waratahs in Melbourne on Friday.

A Rebels’ spokesperson said late on Sunday that the club intended to appeal the judiciary’s decision, saying that Byrne’s contact with centre Tom Carter’s eye was accidental and without intent.

Sanzar judicial officer Paul Tully viewed extensive video footage of the 27th-minute incident and took written testimony from Carter and Waratahs team doctor Luke Inman.

Tully said there was sufficient evidence to support that Byrnes had made contact with Carter’s right eye during a ruck.

Medical evidence showed Carter had sustained a minor scratch to the eye.

Under IRB regulations 12 weeks is the usual sanction for eye gouging but Tully said Byrnes’ previous unblemished record had seen his suspension reduced by two weeks. He will be barred from playing up to and including May 13.

Byrnes was placed on report by match referee Bryce Lawrence who issued an on-field white card for a citing commissioner review following a complaint from Waratahs captain Daniel Halangahu about the incident.—AFP

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