Conor O'Shea's appointment at Quins has shared the news with eye-gouging. Gail Davis fills us in...
Last Updated: 24/12/09 5:46pm
As ever the third round of the Heineken Cup threw up a number of winners and losers, but by far the busiest man this week has been European Rugby's citing officer. Top of the long list of miscreants was Stade Francais' Julien Dupuy.
Eye-gouging is regarded as one of the worst offences a player can commit and officials are promising to come down hard on anybody committing the offence, unlike in Schalk Burger's case when he served only an eight-week ban after gouging Luke Fitzgerald less than a minute into South Africa's second Test against the Lions.
Shaun Edwards was in the Sky Sports News studio on Monday reviewing all the weekend's action and like many of the players and the public, he believes the punishment should fit the crime and if found guilty Dupuy should face a year's ban.
Having spoken to one player who shall remain nameless, but was gouged, he said it is one of the most painful things he's ever experienced. Imagine your whole body weight - which given the size of the modern-day player is considerable - being pulled up through your eye sockets. Sounds horrible doesn't it? But add to that the possibility of long-term damage to the eye itself and you can see why people have been so incensed by some of the bans that have been handed out.
This week the IRB announced an in depth overhaul of its judicial and citing systems next year and top of the billing is gouging a crime they describe as 'heinous' you can already hear the echoes 'of about time. too'.
There was a strange scenario on Thursday at Northampton,a club that normally do everything possible to keep any player with any newsworthy value out of the press' reach but bizarrely Dylan Hartley and Neil Best were put up for interviews on the same day as European Rugby's hearings. Two players who between them have served over a 10-month ban for gouging. In hindsight it might have been a better idea to let Ewan Murray face the journalists, as many had requested, on his Christian beliefs and not being available to play on Sundays.
It's not quite a leap of faith but the decision to name Conor O'Shea as the new director of rugby at Harlequins did raise a few eyebrows. The club hope it'll be the last part of their clean-up operation post-Bloodgate. Speaking to some of the players they're relieved at finally having somebody to head up the chain of command, a figure head to fill the void that Dean Richards left behind.
Richards and O'Shea are certainly very different characters but as the old adage goes there's more than one way to skin a cat and the charm offensive that O'Shea will no doubt bring along with his talented rugby brain, will be very welcome given the current climate. He won't begin work at The Stoop until March by which time most of the recruitment would have been done and all the former Ireland international will hope is that the club will still have something to play for.
Harlequins are of course out of Europe, and Leicester could well be following them if they don't beat Clermont Auvergne on the weekend. Against the French team last Sunday they shipped 40 points for the first time in Europe.
With Richard Cockerill still banned from involvement in match-day activity his frustrations had to roll over into Monday when a no holds-barred meeting was called - you can only imagine the language. It was, if you're not a Tigers fan, a fascinating game to watch and if the rematch is even half as good this weekend it will be well worth tuning in for.