Rugby Union: Australia to tackle French `gouging'

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The Independent Online
AUSTRALIAN OFFICIALS are preparing a dossier on allegations that French players gouged the eyes of Australians during the World Cup final. An ARU spokesman, Strath Gordon, said yesterday that the Australian team doctor John Best had examined players, including the Wallaby captain, John Eales, and was preparing a report.

"We will look at it and probably send it off at some stage to the French federation," Gordon said, adding that the New Zealand Rugby Union was also preparing a report after several All Blacks complained of foul play during their semi-final against France.

"We'll definitely have a look at their report. It may not be a joint submission with New Zealand, but it will certainly be done in conjunction with them." he said.

Gordon said there was no mechanism for sending a complaint to the International Rugby Board because neither the match referee nor the citing commissioner had taken any action during or after the match.

"We want to say to the French: `You've got a problem in your game and you've got to deal with it'," he said.

The Wallaby fly-half, Steve Larkham, who kicked the winning drop goal against South Africa in their semi-final, has returned to Canberra for an operation on his injured knee. He missed much of the last domestic season and returned to action just before the World Cup.

Jonah Lomu, the All Black wing, is looking increasingly likely to take up the offer of a new four-year contract from the New Zealand Rugby Union. His manager confirmed yesterday he had rejected a pounds 1m two-year offer from Super League club Wakefield Trinity and that Lomu would stay in union for the foreseeable future.

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