Just a week after La Rochelle’s Pierre Bourgarit received what was widely criticised as a lenient six-ban for eye-gouging in the Champions Cup, Zebre’s Renato Giammarioli became the latest player get off lightly for biting in the PRO14.
Eye-gouging is considered to be one of the worst offences conceivable in rugby and Bourgarit’s attack on Sale’s Tom Curry was judged to initially carry a minimum twelve-week ban.
However, this punishment was controversially reduced to just six weeks due to the 23-year-old’s previously clean disciplinary record and his expression of remorse, which seems to be the popular thing to do if a player wants their ban reduced.
Similar to eye-gouging, biting is another offence considered to be one of the worst in rugby and Italian international Giammarioli, who has four caps with the Azzurri, was cited for a 61st minute incident in Zebre’s win at Dragons last Saturday.
However, as happened with the Bourgarit case in the Champions Cup, Giammarioli’s PRO14 foul play was similarly sanctioned. It was proven that the 24-year-old No8 had committed a terrible act of foul play – biting – that warranted an entry point of twelve weeks.
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But due to the player’s previously clean disciplinary record, his admittance of guilt and his good conduct throughout the process, mitigation of 50 per cent was applied to result in only a six-week ban which leaves him free to resume playing from January 12.
While these respective disciplinary hearing panels will feel they have done their job correctly, the public optics of both situations surely don’t look good for the sport.
Some fans are very unhappy with European rugby's disciplinary hearing punishments
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 28, 2019
It simply can’t sit well that an eye gouge and a bite warranted similar six-week suspensions when they are acts of foul play which are viewed as most heinous by fans who follow the game on a weekly basis.
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