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'You've grabbed a player by the testicles' - Double red in bizarre Challenge Cup incident

By Ian Cameron
Referee Ben Blain (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

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A bizarre testicles grabbing incident in the Challenge Cup match between Stade Francais and Benetton saw two players sent from the field last night in France.


Scottish referee Ben Blain felt he had no choice but to card two players, one from each team, following the incident at Stade Jean Bouin.

Stade’s 21-year-old Australian blindside Charlie Rorke clearly grabbed the testicles of Italian international Leonardo Sarto in the 42nd minute of the game.


Benetton wing Sarto, rather understandably, took exception to the uninvited attack on his genitalia and lashed out with his arms and an elbow.


Sarto also appeared to throw his head towards Rorke, but failed to connect with the half-hearted effort. Referee Blain saw fit to send both off for the incident, which will surely have repercussions for Rorke.


The referee told Rorke: “You’ve grabbed a player by the testicles. There’s no place for that in the game. Leave the field,” before telling Sarto “Your reaction was not acceptable, you’re having a red card as well. Off you go.”

Rorke was a schoolboy rugby union star in Australia before being picked up by the NRL’s Canberra Raiders. The six foot tall, 102kg back row returned to union with Stade Francais in 2020 and rather remarkably, this was his debut match for his new side.

The blatant grab, reminiscent of Joe Marler’s fondle of Welsh skipper Alun Wyn Jones during the Six Nations, albeit far more violent, could see the flanker spending a long-time on the sidelines.


Marler was banned for ten weeks after appearing before an independent disciplinary committee in Dublin in March over his incident.

The Challenge Cup this year starts with 14 clubs before moving to an expanded knockout stage. This season’s Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup silverware will be decided in Marseille when the finals are staged at the Stade Vélodrome on 21 and 22 May 2021.


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