The IRB are considering toughening up their rules on foul play in the wake of the Schalk Burger eye gouging incident in last weekend’s second Test between the Springboks and British & Irish Lions.
The Springbok back row man was issued with a yellow card in the opening minute of the game for eye gouging. He subsequently received an eight week playing ban – four weeks less than the recommended minimum punishment advised by the IRB
In a statement issued by the world governing body today they said they are launching a review of the existing sanctions relating to contact with the eye or eye area.
“The IRB is firmly of the view that there is no place in Rugby for illegal or foul play and the act of eye gouging is particularly heinous,” said the statement.
“In light of recent high profile cases, the IRB is launching a review of the existing disciplinary sanction structure relating to contact with the eye/eye area in order to send out the strongest possible message that such acts of illegal/foul play will not be tolerated and have no place in a Game that has at its core the pillars of fair play, respect and camaraderie.
“The IRB has also written to the Chairman of the IRB Judicial Panel to underscore its concerns regarding all incidents of eye gouging and a memorandum will be issued to all Independent Judicial Officers reinforcing the IRB’s disciplinary policy.
“Under existing IRB Disciplinary Regulations only the player may appeal independent judicial decisions. In light of recent cases, the IRB will review whether the scope of the appeal should in the future extend to other appropriate parties, including the IRB itself.
“The IRB works tirelessly with all 116 Member Unions and key stakeholders to ensure the safety of players and the reputation of the Game is protected.”
If the IRB change their rules to allow other bodies, including themselves, to appeal against sentences they believe to be too lenient it could have a major impact on both sentencing and players’ attitude to appealing.