Leonardo Ghiraldini banned for gouging Cian Healy

Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini has been suspended for 15 weeks for his attempted eye gouge on Ireland prop Cian Healy.

Ghiraldini acknowledged that he had been guilty of play contrary to Law 10(4)(m) during the first half of Sunday's 36-6 World Cup Pool C defeat at Otago Stadium.



The Benetton Treviso front row denied that his breach of Law 10.4(m) - which covers acts contrary to good sportsmanship, in this case for making contact with the eye or the eye area of Healy - was deliberate.



The disciplinary hearing held in Auckland today conducted a detailed review of all the evidence available, including all broadcast angles and additional evidence from the player.



It found the contact to be a deliberate act and categorised it as top end of offending, which has an entry point suspension of 24 weeks.



However, the length of the ban was reduced because of the 26-year-old's strong disciplinary record.



A statement released by Rugby World Cup Limited read: "The judicial officer took the view there should be an increase on the suspension period prescribed by the entry point for deterrent purposes, noting that increased penalties had not been reflected in any significant reduction in offending of this kind.



"However, taking into account particular aspects of the offending in this case and a range of mitigating factors, principally Ghiraldini's previously unblemished record, the judicial officer reduced the period of suspension otherwise arrived at to 15 weeks."



Ghiraldini can resume playing from January 18, 2012, enabling him to return in time for the start of Italy's RBS 6 Nations campaign. He has 48 hours to appeal the decision.



PA

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