OUT OF HAND: Eye gouging report under scrutiny
AN INCONSISTENT referee's report by a Far North Coast Rugby Union match official could potentially see a Ballina Seahorses player escape with a light sentence for an alleged eye gouge.
The unsavoury incident occurred in a round six match between Grafton and Ballina, when a Ballina player was given his marching orders after an official deemed his hands came into contact with an Grafton player's eyes.
The incident was immediately referred to the Far North Coast Rugby Union judiciary.
But due to vagaries within the referee's report, the player in question took an early guilty plea, which would have seen him sidelined for just one week.
According to the report the wrong charge was written down by the referee, which stated 'punching and striking' but had no mention of 'contact with the eyes'.
Far North Coast Zone president Joe Allen said the matter had taken another twist.
"Initially there was conflicting evidence on the referee's report. The player took an early plea and was given one week," Allen said.
"The referee's association then appealed the decision and the penalty was upgraded to two weeks.
"The referees have once again appealed the sentence (two weeks) handed down, so now it is up to NSW Country to make a ruling.
"The player is provisionally suspended until the matter is resolved."
Grafton Redmen president Guy Robertson, although disappointed with the initial sentence, said it was now a matter for NSW Country Rugby to deal with.
"The photo evidence looks pretty bad but we'll just have to wait and see what outcome is reached by NSW Country Rugby. As a club we will respect their final decision," he said.
"On a positive note it's good to see the referees association has made a stand by appealing the decision."
In other news the Coopers Far North Coast finals series starts on Saturday with the major semi-final between Ballina and Lennox Head followed on Sunday with the minor-semi between Wollongbar and Casuarina.
Quays Reserve Ballina Saturday September 5
3:15pm - 1st Grade - Ballina v Lennox Head
2:30pm - Women's - Ballina v Evans River
1:00pm - 2nd Grade - Ballina v Wollongbar
12:30pm Women's - Casino v Wollongbar
Byron Bay Rec Grounds
3:15pm - Presidents Cup - Byron Bay v Evans River
1:45pm - Presidents Cup - Iluka v Richmond Range
12:30pm - Under 18's - Mullumbimby v Casino
Casuarina Beach Rugby Ground
12:30pm - Under 18's - Casuarina v Lismore
New Park, Kyogle Sunday September 6
3:15pm - 1st Grade - Wollongbar v Casuarina
1:45pm - 2nd Grade - Lennox Head v Casino