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Eye gouging and stomping - La Rochelle's dirty tactics a throwback to rugby's amateur days

Sale and La Rochelle players involved in a scuffle. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

La Rochelle spent the majority of their Champions Cup match against Sale with 14-men after hooker Pierre Bourgarit was red-carded on the stroke of halftime for eye-gouging.


The hooker was spotted grabbing at England flanker Tom Curry’s eyes during a scuffle between the two sides. The TMO reviewed the incident and deemed a red card necessary for the offence.

The visitors were down to 13-men for a further 20-minutes as they were hit with two more yellow cards that could have been more as the French club lost control of their discipline in a wild encounter at AJ Bell Stadium.

With five minutes remaining, centre Geoffrey Doumayrou was seen stomping on an opposition arm at a ruck, pushing his boot into the wrist of a player competing for the ball.

Doumayrou was called over by the refeeree for a talking to after the incident was reviewed by the TMO but no further cards were issued for the act. The French centre was visibly upset at even the penalty, arguing with the referee over the decision.


La Rochelle’s horrific discipline played an influential part in the match, losing the penalty count by 17-8. They were also outgunned in turnovers, with a Curry-powered Sale winning the turnover battle 10-1.

It was surprising that Sale did not finish with more points given the advantages that La Rochelle gave them, however, the home side missed a couple of penalties and had a length of the field try rubbed out for a forward pass.


The result effectively puts La Rochelle out of contention following a 31-12 home defeat by Exeter but sets up the Sharks for their home tie against the unbeaten Chiefs in a fortnight’s time.


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