English Rugby
Blackett would endorse life gouging ban
May 7, 2010
RFU judicial officer Jeff Blackett talks to the press, Renaissance Hotel, Heathrow, January 10, 2002
Jeff Blackett would endorse a life ban for gouging © Getty Images

RFU disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett has admitted that gouging is on the rise and also that he would have no problem in banning a player for life if found guilty of rugby's most cowardly crime.

Blackett handed down a 70-week ban to Stade Francais prop David Attoub in January after the former France international was found guilty of gouging Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris in a Heineken Cup tie at Ravenhill.

The ban, the second longest in history for the offence, was in stark contrast to the eight week suspension given to South Africa's Schalk Burger for his transgression in the second Test against the British & Irish Lions in 2009, but Blackett insists that he would go one step further if the case required it.

"It was exceptional when I started in 2003," he told BBC Radio Five Live. "Now the instances are higher, both in the professional and the amateur game.

"If the long sanctions, such as the 70 weeks which I gave Attoub, don't do the trick, then we need to have even higher sanctions, until people realise that it's just not worth doing. If in the future there is a serious incident of gouging, and somebody is seriously injured, and the culprit comes before me, then he is in danger of a life ban."

Blackett was speaking in the wake of a number of serious incidents in the English amateur game, including a case which left Gravesend No.8 Clarence Harding blind in one eye following a game against Maidstone in London One South, English rugby's sixth level.

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