'You're ****ing biting me'- Forensic odontologist testified in Sinckler bite case
The written judgement of British & Irish Lion tighthead Kyle Sinckler’s hearing last week has been made public, where forensic odontologist Dr Douglas Sheasby said it could not be concluded whether the bite mark on South African lock Franco Mostert’s arm was from a “very slight movement of the teeth or the very slight movement of the skin or a combination of both mechanisms.”
The England international was cited after the second Test for contravening World Rugby Law 10.4, after being accused of biting Mostert in the 64th minute of the match. Chairman Adam Casselden SC and other members of the disciplinary committee David Croft and John Langford concluded that they “could not be satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that [Sinckler] deliberately inflicted a bite on [Mostert’s] right forearm,” which freed him to play in the third Test last Saturday.
Sinckler’s defence was shared, where he claimed Mostert’s “right forearm was around his face/mouth and [Mostert] was squeezing/grabbing his face/mouth tightly,” which caused the mark on the lock’s arm as the 28-year-old was not wearing a gum shield.
The Bristol Bears prop described the force applied as “not pleasant,” “very hardly pressed,” “tightly squeezed” and “a lot of pressure”. However, he rejected the suggestion that he tried to break free by giving “a bit of a nip,” rather he tried to free himself by moving his head, but could not remember his teeth coming into contact with the Springbok’s arm.
Mostert said that he could not remember having a hold of the Englishman’s neck/face, but agreed that it did appear so from the video footage. He said he “felt a player from the British & Irish Lions biting,” and reacted by pushing the prop’s head towards the ground saying, “Oh you’re ****ing biting”. While he accepted he did not see Sinckler biting him, he said he looked at his arm and saw “red dot with teeth marks around it,” but agreed that nothing was visible after the match.
Sinckler also provided an expert report from Dr Sheasby, who has researched and practised forensic odontology for thirty-three years in the United Kingdom and whose expertise is in the analysis of marks and injuries caused by the teeth and other mouth parts.
Dr Sheasby concluded: “The mark demonstrates small linear elements that are consistent with superficial contact by the biting edges of human upper or lower front teeth. The mark does not demonstrate the features of the biting edges of individual upper or lower front teeth. Consequently, it is not possible to state with certainty which part of the mark was caused by a specific upper or lower front tooth.
“The arrangement of the linear elements is consistent with the very slight movement of the biting edges of upper or lower front teeth on the surface of the skin.
“The appearance of the mark on the right forearm of Franco Mostert supports the opinion that the mark was caused by either the very slight movement of the teeth or the very slight movement of the skin or a combination of both mechanisms. It is not possible to identify which of the three possible mechanisms of contact was responsible for the mark.
“It is important to note that the mark does not demonstrate any of the features of an incisive bite mark.
“The appearance of the mark is consistent with a recent injury.
“The degree of soft tissue injury in the mark is consistent with mild force between the biting edges of upper or lower front teeth and the skin.”
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) August 1, 2021
The panel concluded that the mark was the “unintended consequences” of Mostert’s arm coming into contact with Sinckler’s teeth in “the dynamics of the ruck.”
Sinckler was the only player cited from what was a fractious second Test against South Africa, and started on the bench a week later in the series decider in Cape Town Stadium in which the Lions lost 19-16.
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