Ghiraldini lands hefty ban for eye gouging
Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini has received a 15-week ban for gouging the eyes of Ireland forward Cian Healy at the Rugby World Cup.
Ghiraldini, 26, admitted committing the offence but denied intentionally gouging Healy during Sunday's Pool C match in Dunedin, which Ireland won 36-6.
Following an International Rugby Board hearing in Auckland on Tuesday, Ghiraldini was found guilty of breaching Law 10.4(m) by 'making contact with the eyes or eye area' and 'acts contrary to good sportsmanship.'
"Having conducted a detailed review of all the evidence available, including all broadcast angles and additional evidence from the Player and submissions from his legal representative, the Judicial Officer found the contact with the eyes of the Irish player to be a deliberate act on the part of Ghiraldini and categorised it as top end offending which has an entry point of 24 weeks suspension," the IRB said in a statement.
"However, taking into account particular aspects of the offending in this case and a range of mitigating factors, principally Ghiraldini’s previously unblemished record, the Judicial Officer reduced the period of suspension otherwise arrived at to 15 weeks."
Ghiraldini, who plays for Italian club Benetton Rugby Treviso, will be suspended until January 17, meaning he will be available for Italy's 2012 Six Nations campaign. He has 48 hours to lodge an appeal.
Italy's defeat at the Otago Stadium saw them bow out of the competition, while Ireland move on to face Wales in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
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