Irish gouging claims lack evidence

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The Independent Online

Ireland were left frustrated yesterday after accusations that six of their players had been gouged during their dramatic victory over Argentina could not be upheld by video evidence.

Ireland were left frustrated yesterday after accusations that six of their players had been gouged during their dramatic victory over Argentina could not be upheld by video evidence.

Eddie O'Sullivan, the Ireland coach, had put the matter in the hands of the match commissioner, Alberto Recaldini, but after viewing the match video the Italian official announced that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations.

O'Sullivan had claimed that six of his players had been victims of gouging, five of them suffering eye injuries, including the lock Malcolm O'Kelly, who needed a stitch to the edge of his right eye, Brian O'Driscoll and Ronan O'Gara. The flanker Simon Easterby's mouth was also affected.

O'Driscoll said after the match: "I was aware that a number of players were getting gouged. There is no place for that. It's a disgrace."

Gouging is not new to fixtures involving these two teams. After their match at last year's World Cup the two Puma props, Roberto Grau and Mauricio Reggiardo, were banned for the offence.

Argentina's captain, Agustin Pichot, countered by accusing Ireland of attempting to influence the English referee, Tony Spreadbury.

"They were begging him to show the yellow card," Pichot said. "Five times Ireland asked for a yellow. I heard Brian O'Driscoll a couple of times. Eventually our No 8 was sin-binned for obstruction at a line-out. You don't go to the sin-bin for obstruction at a line-out. You draw your own conclusions."

"Not once did I say to the referee 'we want a yellow'," said the Irish captain. "I just felt they were persistently infringing."

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