News in Brief
IRB to get tough on eye-gouging
South Africa remain hopeful that they will host the RWC in either 2015 or 2019
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- The International Rugby Board will consider introducing more stringent punishments for any player found guilty of eye-gouging in a bid to eradicate the "heinous" offence from the sport.
The IRB have launched an investigation into their disciplinary procedures following a spate of high-profile cases, including Schalk Burger's attack on British and Irish Lions winger Luke Fitzgerald last weekend. Burger was sin-binned for the offence in the first minute of the game and then received an eight-week ban, the same suspension dished out on Sunday to Italy captain Sergio Parisse after an incident against New Zealand.
The IRB have vowed to address the issue as a matter of urgency in order to "send out the strongest possible message" that gouging will not be tolerated. In a statement released on Wednesday, the game's world governing body said: "The IRB are 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.
"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 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."
- The South African Rugby Union (SARU) have refused to admit defeat in their bid to host either Rugby World Cup 2015 or 2019, despite failing to win the recommendation of the board of Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL).
England (2015) and Japan (2019) were named as the Board's preferred hosts for the next two Tournaments after a tender process that also included Italy as well as South Africa. The final decision rests with the Council of the International Rugby Board (IRB) who meet in Dublin on July 28 to finalise the hosting nations.
"We are very disappointed not to have won the Board's recommendation but we have not given up," said Mark Alexander, deputy president of SARU and chairman of the Bid Committee. "We met and frequently exceeded every criteria of the tender document and we will now have to examine the findings of the Report presented by RWCL to the Board."
The SARU Bid was backed by government who underwrote the minimum tournament guarantee. The guarantee underwrites ticket sales for the tournament.
"The IRB asked for a minimum guarantee and we were the only nation to offer in excess of that. Our Bid received exceptional assistance and support from the Sports Minister, the Reverend Makhenkesi Stofile, the Department of Sport and Recreation as well as Cabinet and without their backing we simply would not have Bid. The Rugby community of South Africa is very grateful to them.
"Their support would ensure that a Rugby World Cup in South Arica would be a financial success to aid in the growing of the game globally, while the infrastructure and facilities that are being put in place for the FIFA 2010 World Cup would provide Rugby with an outstanding stage on which to showcase the game."
- Bryce Lawrence has been defended for his officiating in the Test series between the Lions and South Africa by the New Zealand Rugby Union referees manager, Lyndon Bray.
Lawrence had been criticised after Springbok flank Schalk Burger attacked the eye area of Lions winger Luke Fitzgerald but was only yelllow-carded, on Lawrence's recommendation. The former England hooker Brian Moore wrote that he was 'not fit to officiate.'
"In terms of law, the ref is the guy who has to ultimately make the decision and I fully back what Bryce did," he The Dominion Post.
"I admire the fact he saw it, because often these incidents are missed because they happen away from the ball and on the ground, so I thought he did an admirable job of seeing it in the first place.
"Then he took a discretion is the better part of valour attitude in terms of the extent to which he forced the issue of yellow or red card."
- All Blacks lock Ali Williams will miss the rest of the international rugby season to have surgery on an Achilles tendon injury.
The All Blacks doctor Deb Robinson said Williams saw a specialist in Auckland where it was confirmed that he would require surgery on his right Achilles and will be out of all rugby for up to four months.
"At the same time, the surgeon will take the opportunity to assess Ali's left shoulder which has some minor instability and has been troubling him for some time," Robinson said.
The 28 year-old was disappointed but philosophical over the set-back.
"It's just a case of getting on with the surgery and then the rehab so I can then get back to playing some footy."
- Chris Horsman, the Worcester Warriors prop, has retired from the game with immediate effect.
Horsman has suffered a series of injuries over the last two seasons and has now been forced to retire on medical grounds following a serious neck injury. The former Bath, Bridgend and the Celtic Warriors player made his international debut in 2005 against Fiji and was part of the 2007 World Cup squad in France.
"It has been a decision between my health and family and the game I love - I had to make the right choice and do it wisely," said Horsman.
"I have had almost 20 operations from rugby and having had cancer twice I have been through it, sometimes the biggest and hardest decision is to say enough is enough. Rugby has been a huge part of my life for 12 years. I would do it for nothing, I would pay to do it, so I have been very fortunate with the things I have achieved and the people I have met and teams I have played for, particularly Worcester and Wales.
"The club have indicated that they want me to stay involved in some capacity and it's something I would like, I would love to keep my links with Warriors, it is a club close to my heart and out of all the clubs I have played for it has made a massive impression on me."
- Western Force have secured the signing of ACT Brumbies prop Nic Henderson. The 28-year-old, capped three times by the Wallabies, joins fellow Test props Pek Cowan and Matt Dunning, and former Hurricanes stalwart Tim Fairbrother in Perth after finalising a two year deal.