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Ghiraldini gets 15 weeks for Healy eye gouge

The Italian hooker will be banned from playing until mid-January, pending an appeal.

Image: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

ITALIAN HOOKER LEONARDO GHIRALDINI has been slapped with a 15-week ban after he was found guilty of deliberately “gouging” Cian Healy’s eye during Sunday’s World Cup match against Ireland.

The Benetton Treviso man looks set to be suspended from all competitions until the middle of January, pending the outcome of an appeal which he must lodge in the next 48 hours.

Healy was seen lashing out at Ghiraldini after the pair clashed in a ruck during the first half of Ireland’s 36-6 win in Dunedin.

Although referee Jonathan Kaplan awarded a penalty against Healy for his violent response, TV replays clearly picked out the Italian’s fingers making contact with the area around his eye.

The footage was examined by the citing commissioner this morning, who subsequently found Ghiraldini guilty of a breach of the game’s laws. The Italian admitted the breach, but maintained that his actions had not been deliberate.

Under normal circumstances, top end offences such as eye gouging carry a minimum penalty of at least 24 weeks. However, after taking Ghiraldini’s “previously unblemished record” into consideration, the hearing reduced his suspension to 15 weeks.

As a result, Ghiraldini will be sidelined until 18 January, missing a huge chunk of Treviso’s Pro12 campaign and making his return just two weeks before Italy launch their 2012 Six Nations campaign with a trip to Paris.

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Niall Kelly

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