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Dublin: 3°C Tuesday 26 January 2021
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Former Ireland Wolfhounds lock O'Donoghue cleared of eye goughing

The ex-Ulster and Leinster second row has had his red card struck from the records following a hearing.

O'Donoghue has been cleared of the offence.
O'Donoghue has been cleared of the offence.

FORMER IRELAND WOLFHOUNDS lock Ed O’Donoghue has been cleared of eye goughing in a Super Rugby match between the Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels on Saturday.

The ex-Ulster and Leinster man was red carded for the offence in the 79th minute of the game at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, after referee Steve Walsh had reviewed the incident in conjunction with his television match official.

O’Donoghue’s hand did make contact with the face of Rebels’ captain Scott Higginbotham, but a SANZAR Judicial Hearing has found the Reds’ second row not guilty of contravening acts contrary to good sportsmanship.

Furthermore, the red card issued by Walsh on Saturday has been removed from the 31-year-old’s record.

The investigation was carried out under IRB law 10.4 (m), which reads: “A player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship in the playing enclosure.”

Source: thomas O Brien/YouTube

Advocate Jannie Lubbe SC, who was the chairman of the Judicial Hearing released the following statement today:

“After careful consideration of all of the evidence, which included written and verbal submissions from the player, the player’s representative Mark Martin QC, Scott Higginbotham and match officials, I have found Mr O’Donoghue not guilty.

“My finding is supported by these witness statements, in conjunction with medical evidence supplied by the Rebels which indicated no damage had been inflicted upon Mr Higginbotham and furthermore, the player stated that he made no complaint to the referee.

The act of eye gouging generally triggers a reaction from the victim which was not evident in this case and helped support my finding. Eye gouging is certainly a very serious and unacceptable offence in the game of rugby and any allegation warrants a thorough investigation.

“In this instance, having thoroughly reviewed video evidence from numerous angles and the considering witness testimony, I am satisfied that Mr O’Donoghue has not committed the act in question.

“No further sanction has been imposed on the player and the red card has been removed from his record.”

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Murray Kinsella

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