This is an (incomplete) list of rugby union players banned for contact with eyes or the eye area of an an opponent.


Law 10 of the International Rugby Board Laws on the Game of Rugby Union 2010 defines foul play as: "Anything a player does within the playing enclosure that is against the letter and spirit of the Laws of the Game. It includes obstruction, unfair play, repeated infringements, dangerous play and misconduct which is prejudicial to the Game". Law 10.4(l) states that "A player must not do anything that is dangerous to the opponent". [1] Appendix 1 of IRB Regulation 17 provides for punishment for contact with eyes or the eye area of an an opponent. [2]

Media reporting as gougingEdit

Despite instances of this infraction being frequently reported as "gouging" by the media, there is no mention of the term in the IRB Laws or Regulations, only scales of seriousness.

Scales of the offenceEdit

Following two high profile test match incidents of Schalk Burger and Sergio Parisse during the same week in June 2009, the IRB stated that it would review the "sanction structure" for this type of offence "in order to send out the strongest possible message that such acts will not be tolerated".[3]

The regulations provide a scale of seriousness of the player’s conduct:

  • Lower End - Ban of 12 weeks.
  • Mid Range - Ban of 18 weeks.
  • Top End - Ban of 24 + weeks.
  • Maximum Sanction - 156 weeks.


Scope of the listEdit

This list includes sanctions levied from matches in:

as well as Internatonial Test Matches, including all matches between a Union and the combined Team of the Pacific Island Unions and matches involving the British and Irish Lions.

List of sanctions for making contact with eyes or eye area of an opponent (in chronological order).
(*International matches highlighted)
Offence date Player Length of ban
For Against
1992 22x20px Richard Loe [4] 26 Waikato Otago (Greg Cooper)
1997 22x20px Troy Flavell [4] 3 North Harbour Wellington (Steve Sinkinson)
1999-11-26 22x20px Richard Nones [5] 2 years Colomiers Pontypridd
2007-04-20 22x20px Dylan Hartley [6] 26 Northampton Saints London Wasps
2008-02-23 22x20px Mauro Bergamasco [7] 13 22x20px Italy 22x20px Wales (Lee Byrne)
2008-03-15 22x20px Seru Rabeni [8] 14 Leicester Tigers Saracens (Andy Kyriacou)
2008-10-18 22x20px Marius Tincu [9] 18 Perpignan Ospreys (Paul James)
2009-04-18 22x20px Olivier Azam [10] 9 Gloucester Cardiff Blues (Jamie Roberts)
2009-05-02 22x20px Ireland Alan Quinlan [11] 12 Munster Leinster (Leo Cullen)
2009-06-26 22x20px Sergio Parisse [12] 8 22x20px Italy 22x20px New Zealand (Isaac Ross)
2009-12-12 22x20px Julien Dupuy[13] 24 Stade Francais Ulster (Stephen Ferris)
2009-12-12 22x20px David Attoub[14] 70 Stade Francais Ulster (Stephen Ferris)
2008-09-20 22x20px Ireland Neil Best[15] 18 Northampton Saints London Wasps (James Haskell)
2009-01-24 22x20px Martin Corry[16] 6 Leicester Tigers Ospreys
2009-06-27 22x20px Schalk Burger[17] 8 22x20px South Africa British and Irish Lions (Luke Fitzgerald)
2009-10-09 22x20px Ireland Shane Jennings[18] 12 Leinster London Irish (Nick Kennedy)


  1. "Laws of the Game Rugby Union 2010, Law 10.4". International Rugby Board. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "REGULATION 17. ILLEGAL AND/OR FOUL PLAY AND MISCONDUCT". International Rugby Board. 
  3. "IRB get tough on gouging". Press Association. 2006-07-01. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Paul, Gregor (2006-04-16). "Infamous acts of rugby violence". NZ Herald. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  5. "Nones' Colomiers teammates air their support". ESPN Scrum. 1999-12-11. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  6. Mairs, Gavin (2009-06-28). "Lions 2009: Eye-gouging still blights the game despite hefty suspensions". Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  7. "Bergamasco sorry for Byrne gouge". BBC. 2008-03-01. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  8. "Rabeni loses eye-gouging appeal". BBC. 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  9. Rees, Paul (2009-01-29). "Tincu a suitable case to be rugby's version of Bosman". Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  10. "Azam guilty of eye 'gouging'". 2009-05-08.,19528,12549_5297799,00.html. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  11. Cleary, Mick (2009-05-13). "Alan Quinlan to miss Lions tour after 12-week ban for eye gouging". Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  12. "Italy captain suspended for eye gouging". 2009-06-28. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  13. "Julien Dupuy decision". ERC Rugby. 18 December 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2009. 
  14. "Stade Francais prop David Attoub banned for 70 weeks". BBC. 19 January 2010. Retrieved 19 January 2010. 
  15. "Neil Best banned for 18 weeks after 'eye-gouging' James Haskell". 1 October 2008. 
  16. "Corry handed six-week suspension". BBC. 13/02/2009. Retrieved 29/04/2010. 
  17. "Burger: I'm not a thug". 2 July 2009. 
  18. "Leinster's Shane Jennings gets 12-week ban for eye-gouging England ace Nick Kennedy". 14 October 2009. 

External LinksEdit