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'I should have torn it off so I could say I returned to South Africa with the guy's ear'

By Paul Smith
Chris Ashton and Cameron Redpath have both served bans for biting /Getty

British & Irish Lions prop Kyle Sinckler tomorrow protests his innocence at a World Rugby disciplinary hearing following his second test citing for an alleged bite on Franco Mostert.


Should the Bristol Bears prop be found guilty he will face a minimum ban of 12 weeks.

While biting cases remain extremely rare, precedent does exist – here is a selection of historic cases to get your teeth into…

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Warren Gatland speaks about the role emotion will play in the decisive third Test
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Warren Gatland speaks about the role emotion will play in the decisive third Test

A renowned ‘enforcer’ the former Bath and England second row had many skirmishes with rugby’s authorities – including an incident which took place on the ill-fated 2005 Lions tour.

Grewcock copped a two-month ban for biting New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu’s finger which the disciplinary committee decided had inadvertently found its way into his mouth.

Grewcock maintained his innocence but had no choice but to miss the remainder of the trip.


South African prop Johan le Roux showed little contrition after being found guilty of biting All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick’s ear during a 1994 test match in Wellington.

The Beast (but not that one) as he was nicknamed was sent home by the South African management immediately after the match and received a hefty ban that wound up ending his career.

Infamously le Roux is later quoted as saying: “For an 18-month suspension, I feel I probably should have torn it off. Then at least I could say I’ve returned to South Africa with the guy’s ear.”

The much-travelled former England winger received a 13-week ban in 2016 for biting Northampton prop Alex Waller.


Like a number of others in this list Ashton was no stranger to the disciplinary process – in fact this ban followed hot on the heels of a 13-week suspension for making contact with Ulster centre Luke Marshall’s eyes.

Dylan Hartley was banned for biting in 2012 (Photo by David Rogers/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Former England captain Dylan Hartley could write a book on disciplinary hearings.

Among his many indiscretions, in 2012 he received eight weeks on the sidelines for taking a nibble of Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris’s finger during the Six Nations.

The incident was missed by the match officials, though referee Nigel Owens took note when Ferris showed him the bite marks.

The Argentinian forward had two bites of the cherry – of more accurately the opposition – during his chequered career.

In 2013 he received a nine-week ban for chomping on Springbok lock Ebe Etzebeth’s arm during a Rugby Championship clash.

Three years later the former Worcester Warrior received a ten-week suspension for biting Sharks flanker Keegan Daniel while playing for the Jaguares against the Sharks in Super Rugby.

Remarkably, the disciplinary committee began with a 12-week period, added two weeks because this was Senatore’s second biting offence, but then removed four weeks because of “the player’s good character.”

Despite pleading his innocence, Bath’s former England prop Kevin Yates received a six-month ban in 1998 for biting the ear of London Scottish flanker Simon Fenn following a collapsed scrum.

The back-rower subsequently required 25 stitches to his ear, but with no visual evidence found of the bite Yates’ ban was six months.

The man in charge, Ashley Rowden, commented: “In my experience as a referee, I’ve never experienced anything like it. The player was clearly missing some part of his ear lobe. There was a lot of blood.”

Biting is extremely difficult for a referee to pick up, so the Zebre hooker is somewhat unusual in having received a straight red card from this Saturday’s third test official Mathieu Raynal for biting Connacht lock Quinn Roux during a 2016 Champions Cup match in Parma. He subsequently received a nine-week ban.

Bordeaux Begles’ Fijian No.8 – who also had a stint at Sale Sharks – was handed a 12-week ban for biting London Irish flanker Declan Danaher during a 2012 European Challenge Cup clash.

Scotland’s Cameron Redpath in action for England against Ireland in a World Rugby U20 Championship. (Photo by Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images)

Scotland’s Bath centre copped a three-month ban in 2019, when representing England Under-20’s.
Redpath was found guilty of sinking his teeth into opposition hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin during England’s 30-23 win over Ireland at the World U20 Championships in Argentina.

The captain of Australia’s women’s team was banned for six weeks after biting Rebecca Clough during a 2019 Super W match between Queensland and Rugby WA.

Clough alerted the referee by pointing to a bite mark on her arm made by her Walleroo teammate.


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