England and Perpignan prop Perry Freshwater has been banned for one month following an outrageous swinging elbow/backhand that left London Irish flanker Kieran Roche with a fractured eye socket and blurred vision.
After a scrum collapsed and the ref had stopped play in order to reset it, Freshwater seemed to be leaning down on someone in the London Irish pack. Roche put his arm around Freshwater in an effort to pull him away seemingly, when out of the blue Freshwater lashed out, catching Roche square in the left eye, sending him to the turf clutching his face in agony.
Whether it was Freshwater’s elbow, as reported, or the back of his hand, it certainly caused some damage with fears that surgery may be required on Roche’s eye. As you can see by the top picture, the area around his eye certainly is a mess. Roche will be out of rugby for 4 weeks.
Opthalmologists in London have said that they would need the bruising and swelling to subside before determining the extent of the damage to the eye itself.
Neither ref nor touch judge saw the incident (that’s their story anyway – not sure how the touch judge could miss it), so on the field a penalty was all that came of it. An independent citing commission has since ruled that “the offence was of mid-range in the level of seriousness”. Whatever that means I don’t know, but to receive only one month for this is pretty lenient I feel.
Then again, Phil Vickery has only received a two week suspension for
trampling on Thibaut Privat’s leg
, so maybe they’re trying to be consistent at least.
Consistently forgiving some might say.