Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Two Argentina players cited after eye-gouge and biting claims in Mendoza

Two Argentina forwards are facing possible suspensions following the ill-tempered Pumas vs Springboks game in Mendoza at the weekend. Leonardo Senatore and Pablo Matera have been cited for biting and eye-gouging respectively.

The Springboks won the game 22-17 but it was Argentina that led for a large part and took it to the visitors physically, not standing back to a forward pack that is renowned for bullying the opposition.

Shortly after the halftime break things got a little ugly though, as Bath flanker Francois Louw claimed that he had felt Matera's fingers around his eye.

"He's eye-gouging me!" could be heard over referee Steve Walsh's mic. Followed by "What the f*ck are you doing" and then a more composed "He went for my eye there."

Walsh referred to the TMO but replays were inconclusive. Matera has since been cited after the incident was deemed to have met the Red Card threshold for foul play. He is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (m) Acts contrary to good sportsmanship.

Fifteen minutes later South African lock Eben Etzebeth cleared out Argentina number eight Leonardo Senatore at a ruck but after getting him in some kind of choke hold, Senatore allegedly bit his arm.

In what was an interesting exchange between skipper Jean De Villiers and referee Walsh, De Villiers rejected the offer of making a note of the incident for the citing commisioner, and instead told Walsh that they'd like the benefit during the game. Walsh acknowledged his point, but somehow communication with the TMO failed at that time, so they played on.

After a review of the video footage, the citing commisioner felt that the alleged bite was also worthy of a red card offence, so Senatore has been cited.

"These are things, I believe, which are not part of rugby and I would like them to be sorted out," said De Villiers upon arrival in South Africa on Monday. "Those are things that you don't want to be sorted out afterwards - you want the benefit during the game.

"It is out of our hands now. I just tried to put pressure on him (Walsh) to take care of it on the field and, unfortunately, at that stage the lines of communications weren't there."

The judicial hearings will take place on Wednesday night (GMT). IRB suspensions for biting range between 12 weeks and four years. Gouging offences could carry an even longer ban.

You can view both incidents below, including the scuffle between Morne Steyn and Horacio Agulla

UPDATE: Senatore was suspended for 9 weeks while Matera was cleared

Posted at 8:24 am | 54 comments

Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 54 comments

Daniel August 27, 2013 11:28 am

For the biting offence, if it is proved then a ban should follow, but why is the SA player being cited for trying to rip the guys head off? Its been a while since I played but I cant remember it being legal to remove someone from the ruck by their head?!

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FoXtroT August 27, 2013 11:47 am

If you watch the video you see that the Arg player tries to do a very low pick and drive; Estebeth being a Lock is rather tall and can't get under him to make the tackle so you see him putting his arm under his should (if that makes sense) which then precedes to slip up and ends up by his neck. He clearly did not intentionally try "choke him out" like many people claim.

I find it highly hypocritical that people are trying to defend the Argies actions while if the roles were reversed their would have been an absolute hounding by everyone on how the dirty boks play.

Furthermore, I see that people are trying to give Etsebeth a bad rep saying he is like Bakkies. Just because he plays physically does not mean he is dirty and as far as I know he has only been found guilty of a mock headbutt, not exactly the mark of a dirty player.

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johndoe August 27, 2013 2:16 pm

I doubt there was an actual gouge in the first incident, the hand was below the eyes, and you can't see too much for the biting incident. It seems like a strong reaction to be faking it though.

As for Etzebeth being a dirty player, he hasn't done much for the Springboks but at u20 level and for the Stormers he has done a bit more. Anyway, it's part of the game. As long as he stays away from these sort of incidents and hitting players from behind or on the deck, it's fine. It's good to have very physical players, and it's entertaining.

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jaded forward August 27, 2013 6:25 pm

Etzebeth being tall and thus justified in collaring anyone just doesn't hold water. Same as in the tackle, it's his responsibility to get low and use proper form. If he doesn't bother to get low enough, then it's a penalty. His 'innocence' is further compromised by how long he holds onto the Argentinian's neck after not only having dragged him (by the head) from the ruck, but also having taken him down to the ground.

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BTG August 27, 2013 12:11 pm

If you have your arm in a place where it can be bitten by an opposition you are obviously not hitting the correct point of contact or releasing when it goes above the shoulders. Harden up Princess he had a mouth-guard in.

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SpencaH August 27, 2013 12:33 pm

Mike Tyson also had a mouth guard in....

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Unstoppable over a yard August 27, 2013 1:33 pm

I would have bit him also if he had pulled me out of a ruck by my neck and held me down by the throat.

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Mylo August 27, 2013 7:11 pm

So you play football then I am guessing. Leaving biting to toddlers and Luis Suarez.

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Unstoppable over a yard August 28, 2013 3:30 pm

Gosh, the you are a footballer one is a new one. Top original insult, I have no reply to such wit.

Mylo, I have played rugby and have bitten two people, one who had his thumb in my mouth and was pulling my head around by my cheek, tearing the corner of my mouth and someone who had my head and was twisting my head around with his arm over my face.

I wished I could have done something else but I could not, on both occasions I also punched them as soon as they released me.

I really worry about head and neck injuries, players must be aware of their responsibilty to the player they are in contact with. The growth of shoulder/neck/head "tackles" at rucks and mauls is disturbing. I would support any ban of any player who pulls players out like the South African did.

The I started at the shoulder B**loxs is an excuse, if you are at risk of seriously endangering the player you should not do it.

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stroudos August 28, 2013 6:57 am

Tyson spat his mouthguard out just before he went in for Holyfield's ear. That was what was so outrageous about it, that it was pre-meditated.

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dfect August 27, 2013 12:19 pm

The tea bagging was pretty funny

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stroudos August 28, 2013 6:59 am

I have never seen that before!

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DrG August 29, 2013 7:31 pm

I thought the same thing....hardly a rugby crime of the century, but not surprising it raised a reaction lol..

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shameless August 27, 2013 12:34 pm

Basically it's the typical political problem. If you are from Argentina, or another minor country (like Italy) you will be treated as guilty from the beginning.
Looking the video It's clear to see two reaction. From SA. That's all.

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Unstoppable over a yard August 27, 2013 12:45 pm

Whining South Africans dish it out and can not take it Lowe was not gouged his hand was near his eye not injury or damage. Yes his hand was close but no injury no gouge. "He's gouging me." Get a grip.

Sliding up my A**e he grabs him by the neck and throw him to the floor then hold him down by the throat. Cheap.

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Rhys August 27, 2013 2:04 pm

The player goes low to Etzebeth's waist height. When he gets tackled, he is caught around the shoulder and on the side of the neck because of how low he was and how tall Etzebeth is. Then he is driven back in the tackle. Once they hit the ground, Etzebeth releases him. Where does he hold him by the throat on the ground? If this was really a high tackle then that would have been cited. Open both eyes and stop being partial.

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Unstoppable over a yard August 28, 2013 4:48 pm

sorry Rhys, must have been watching a different clip.

In your clip, why was it ok for Etzebeth to grab the guy by the neck because he was lower than him? Rubbish.

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DrG August 29, 2013 7:33 pm

So Rhys, the perfect rugby team would be players over 7ft tall? because basic rules don't apply because they're too tall..

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Rhys August 29, 2013 8:28 pm

My apologies. Technically, it is a high tackle but you can see it isn't malicious. It is high because of circumstance. Most telling for me is that no Argentinian complained about tackle.

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s_conner August 27, 2013 12:46 pm

Hard to see exactly what went on so i wouldn't expect long bans to be imposed. Argies lost their cool in the last twenty where so many test matches are won or lost and it played straight into SA hands.

Discipline is everything!

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cj15 August 27, 2013 1:22 pm

Didn't hear De Villiers or any South Africans pleading for the benefits to be dolled out during the game when Burger gouged Fitzgerald in the first 3 mins of the 2nd lions test. That was the most obvious and deliberate gouge ever seen.

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FoXtroT August 27, 2013 2:18 pm

Well maybe you should stop moaning about that gouge because all's fair game when you are in the ruck. *Sarcasm off

Your hypocrisy astounds me.

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Mylo August 27, 2013 7:14 pm

Its called game intelligence. Maybe if the Lions had been a bit smarter they would have asked for it. And maybe they would have won. But they weren't, and they didn't.

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Reality August 28, 2013 2:22 pm

Yeah. "Listen ref; in three years' time they're going to introduce video-referee referral for foul play, so get him to look at that eye-gouge now and have Burger sent off, will you? I know you're not allowed to do it, but I'll take full responsibility, so don't worry."

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Rugbier August 27, 2013 1:32 pm

As a rugby fanatic, i just hate seeing how foul play corodes the game. However in both matera's and in senatore's cases, i just dont see a clear motive for suspension. The match was very physical and temperture rises after every big hit.

My point is, if their is no real evidence in the images, neither players should be suspended. I am french so i really do not cheer for either side but i would say it is quite unfare tu suspend a player without any real proof.

Speaking about the reactions, how many times in rugby is there shuving and using? Same old same olda. It will always be a part of the sport. So lets not lash out againts etzebeth and low.

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FoXtroT August 27, 2013 5:34 pm

There may well be footage that we did not get to see on TV that more clearly shows what went on. So I would be hesitant to judge solely on what we see in the above clip.

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cj15 August 27, 2013 1:34 pm

Also if they look at an incident and nothing can be seen to conclusively antagonise, surely the "reaction" becomes the offence....not really relevant for the Louw incident- because nothing much there, but how do we know Ezbeth is not just covering for own poor discipline by alleging foul play by the Argie?? Ezbeth should have been pinged for the headslap.

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Colombes August 27, 2013 1:42 pm

If proven these 2 offences should be severely sanctionned
Also quite surprised by the absence of sanctions on Etzebeth double retaliations, and M.Steyn very suspicious movement at 03:02...

On a side note, i'm quite worried by the multiplication of stoppage times in rugby because of new video rules allowing the ref to look back to any kind of suspicious actions.
Video should be present to help the ref, and not be a substitute of the ref!

I understand the need to reduce errors, but if that continues, we'll see players constantly asking ref to look back at any kind of stuff... and lose the proper rythm of a rugby match.

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stroudos August 28, 2013 7:01 am

Even worse when Steve Walsh referees. I'm sure he goes to live replays as frequently as he can just to see himself on the big screen! He bloody loves it.

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stroudos August 28, 2013 7:07 am

"M.Steyn very suspicious movement at 03:02..."

Wow, how has this not been noticed/mentioned by anyone else!? Looks very much like he's poking a thumb in the teabagger's eye, doesn't it? Need a camera angle from the other side really but it looks a lot more conclusive than the one on Louw.

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DrG August 29, 2013 7:36 pm

It's a weird way to adjust your hand, that's for sure...

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DaveSea August 27, 2013 1:42 pm

I cant see a bite or a gouge but I can see a choke and a reaction. Bad reffing not looking at the incident from both sides.
Saying that I do think there was a bite but I would have bit him too if he chokced me on the ground. I think SA were let away with alot of roough high shots in the rucks in these games

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Rhys August 27, 2013 1:57 pm

Why bring up an incident that the citing commission gave a minimal ban for because they viewed it as accidental? He got the 6 match ban because it was reckless. However it was in no way on purpose. In John Smit's biography, he explains that they were taught in training to grab the player by the shoulders and spin him out the ruck like that. So it was unfortunate that when Burger did that, his hands slid up. That's why the commission punished him with the lowest possible sanction.

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DrG August 29, 2013 7:37 pm

....um...ya what?

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Benny August 27, 2013 3:00 pm

Can't see an eye gouge but it looks like Louw grabs his hand, bites it, then gets up and pulls off his head gear. The type of reaction you might expect from someone that has just been gouged, unless he's a very good actor

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Benny August 27, 2013 3:16 pm

Difficult situation really. If they ban Senatore for biting when EE was choking him, they'd have to ban Louw for biting Matera during the gouge. Not exactly the same circumstances but not too far apart.

I'd like to see another angle of what Steyn's doing with his thumb. Considering all the biting going on, I wouldn't want to be tea bagging a guy

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Mylo August 27, 2013 7:23 pm

Really? If you can't make out gouging, how on earth can you make out biting? Its looks like he is trying to move his hand out of his face, which is a pretty basic instinct if someone is trying to tickle your eye socket. Also using that weak claim of Louw biting in reaction to equivocate the banning of Etzebeth as well is just. Are you trying to justify the Argies biting, by claiming Louw bit a player and is thus a justifiable response? If Louw had bitten Matera, I doubt his response would have been to hold his head like it had been kicked when Louw ripped his scrum cap off. Use your common sense mate.

Aside from that I had to hand it to the Argies, they were brilliantly aggressive in the first half, but lost the plot and tried to rattle the boks with underhanded foul play rather than continuing to smash them.

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Benny August 27, 2013 8:35 pm

At 1:08 it almost looks like a chomping motion. He grabs the hand down, I assume to stop him from gouging him, then instead of pulling his head out goes for a bit of a nibble then pulls away.

Re-read my comment above, I never said anything about banning Eben. I said if they ban Senatore, who bit to stop a choke, they would need to ban Louw, IF he bit to stop a gouge. But I'm not saying they should ban Louw if he did it in reaction to a gouge.

And I can't be expected to explain why he held his head like he'd been kicked. The Argentines seem to have a similar flair for the dramatic like the French.

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timmy August 27, 2013 3:19 pm

As an argentinian I recognize that these two players made a huge mistake, when trying to play a sort of old schools tricks; but these 2 matches against the boks have shown at least to me the lack of justice from the two refferees, these are the rules: high tackle, offside, and high tackle again. the roughness is part of the game, but if punished should be in a just and equal way. (awful reffs steve walsh and chris pollock)

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Computer says no August 27, 2013 5:10 pm

You hit the nail on the head - it was truly awful refereeing.

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ACIT August 27, 2013 5:20 pm

I thought that Nonu shoulder charge would deserve to be cited too...

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Benny August 28, 2013 7:31 pm

Have you seen the full match? In the 32nd minute Slipper shoulders Woodcock instead of tackling him. It's almost exactly the same as the Nonu shoulder on Slipper. There are so many shoulders used each game that it's very rare they get cited. Except Butch James' but his usually involve trying to take someone's head off at the same time

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Jonny B August 27, 2013 5:38 pm

What was it Peter De Villiers once said after a gouge by Burger in the 09 Lions tour? This is not ballet or some tripe like that? The South Africans have a real history of dirty play, and when people find justice isnt sufficiently given, those moments hang in the memory of opposing fans. Etsebeth is by no means a clean, good sportsman, he has had his fair share of gouging controversies.

But that said, every incident should be refereed and governed on its own merit, the fact a team has a history of dirty play/ a player has a history or not should not come into the equation.

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asdfero August 27, 2013 6:23 pm

Love how SAz are calling other people hypocritical and vice versa too.

Whether Argentina used the dirty old tricks or not is not the question.

We ALL know that in every high caliber international competition this happens and it's known, only that nobody sees it because even though we have pretty nice recording equipment, the bowels of the ruck are still a mystery to people who haven't played forward irl.

The question is: how and why people blow up when they see this?
Because they want to point fingers and absolve guilt, everyone uses the old tricks and everyone will. Because it's international rugby.

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poccio August 27, 2013 7:01 pm

The way I see it is that the refereeing was poor. I was always tought that if you react you get penalized, so in my opinion the ref should have looked at the footage on the pitch, if he can't see anything clearly he refers it to the citing commisioner and if he can, in this case the SA reaction was clear, he should sanction it (appropriate call: penalty for ARG). The stupidest comment is the refs when Contpomi says "What about the reaction?" or something similar, and the ref says "Oh I wasn't looking at that" WTF?! you should watch the whole footage they show you!

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poccio August 27, 2013 7:02 pm

I should say the approipriate call is penalty for argentina but also referral to the citing commisioner.

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Facepalm August 29, 2013 8:12 pm

Disagree. Louw's reaction wasn't enough to sanction a penalty. In fact it was almost nothing. The same goes for Etzebeth. He's hardly right hooked him in the face?

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rugby08 August 28, 2013 10:11 am

Interesting looking at the comments.... and the double standards.
I remember when Hartley was banned for biting Stephen Ferris, and there was even less evidence than here!

There was an incredibly minuscule amount of people defending Hartley there when Ferris's arm was rapped around his neck. Now everyone's ripping it into South Africa.

Incredible and pathetic.

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MooseC August 29, 2013 9:26 am

Gouge looked accidental to me.

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browner September 07, 2013 10:25 am

Bollocks, gouging is never accidental, ... fingers have no place near the face...... irb must get tougher, gouging and biting are blighting the game..... period

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Facepalm August 29, 2013 8:06 pm

Based on this video footage there is no evidence to support a ban. You can't clearly see a bite and you can't clearly see a gouge. The events may well have occurred but until further footage is shown the players can't be punished.

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Feddderico August 29, 2013 9:13 pm

Today the SANZAR gave his veredict:

Leonardo Senatore... 9 weeks of suspension.

Pablo Matera... nothing. Absolve. He can play the rest of the Championship.

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browner September 07, 2013 10:33 am

All these issues are caused by contact above the shoulders............. their is no ball winning benefit to targetting the face neck or eyes, its just dirty play ............ sanctions should be increased, its replaced thespear tackl and the stamp as the games biggest blight............IRB need to stand up and show backbone........ rid the game of thuggery, its tough enough without it

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browner September 07, 2013 10:34 am

Ps............ can't help thinking that an argie switched off the comms link, as soon as devill asked for rv....!

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