Please do not turn a blind eye
"MOVE along people, nothing to see here" was the effective message from the Six Nations citing commissioner after ruling that nothing untoward had taken place during the recent Scotland/England match. Sadly, if such an attitude continues to prevail then a player will indeed have nothing to see.
The disgraceful assaults on Scotland's Ross Ford and Max Evans have effectively been condoned by the citing commissioner who said that after reviewing the match there was no need to impose any retrospective punishment for any player involved.
Two photographs from the match at Murrayfield conflict with such a view. In last week's edition of The Glaswegian, we published a picture of Glasgow Warriors centre Max Evans being stopped in his tracks by England captain Steve Borthwick. The latter had the former's head clasped with both hands with the thumb on his left hand clearly entering Evans' left eye.
Meanwhile, a separate publication had printed an image of an unidentified English finger being thrust into Edinburgh hooker Ross Ford's left eye.
Yet bizarrely, the citing commissioner saw nothing wrong with either incident.
The assault on Ford was just that. Play had stopped and while there were some verbal exchanges going on between both front-rows, there is no excuse for thrusting a finger into someone else's eye.
While an argument can be made that Borthwick didn't mean to have his thumb intrude on the eyeball of Max Evans, he is still culpable of making a dangerous tackle. Head high challenges are illegal for a reason - namely due to the potential damage you can do to a player who is running at full tilt.
Again, the eye contact may have been an accident but once you decide to go for a player's head with both hands, you are responsible for any serious injury your recklessness should cause.
Yet no punishment was handed out to Borthwick nor was there a proper investigation as to who assaulted Ford. Why? Because the citing commissioner made it clear that he doesn't want to know.
Rugby has an image problem right now and while some like Judge Jeff Blackett (who handed out strong punishments to French duo Julien Dupuy and David Attoub and England's Dylan Hartley for gouging) have been trying to root out the wrong-doers it is evident that there are those still keen to - and please excuse the pun - turn a blind eye.
Finger to eye contact during a game carries two risks. Firstly, scratching the eye area can cause corneal abrasions, bleeding in the front or middle part of the eye, and blurred vision.
Secondly, inserted into the eye a stray finger or thumb with enough pressure can cause bleeding within the eye, retinal detachment or damage to the optic nerve and blindness.
Yet the citing commissioner does not deem the two incidents at Murrayfield as being serious enough to invoke any disciplinary measures upon the parties involved?
Some may argue that there is no case to answer as Ford and Evans did not emerge with any real damage. Wrong. That is akin to someone saying: "He fired six shots at him your honour but because he missed you should let him go".
One England fan emailed us in response to last week's column on the Borthwick/Evans incident said we were making a mountain out of a molehill in an excuse to have a go at the English.
To him I reply that two years ago we condemned in equal measure Scotland's Andy Henderson head-butting (and it was our back page splash at the time) France's Damien Traille and were equally astonished when the citing commissioner decided not to enforce any retrospective punishment.
Whatever the nationality of the accused, an assault on an opposing player's eye are must be condemned across the board and not just left to a select few to actually enforce the laws of the game.
Let's have another reminder as to how damaging such contact can be.
Former Scottish Schools cap, Dr Graham Duguid, published a paper in the British Journal of Sports Medicine 10 years ago which cited two examples of players hurt by illegal eye-contact. One was a 29-year-old man who suffered two giant retinal tears in his right eye. The other was a 14-year-old boy who suffered two similar tears after an opposing player had placed his hands on either side of the victim's head and pressed on both eyes at the same time with his thumbs.
Duguid went on to conclude that: "The retina, the photo-sensitive film at the back of the eye, can tear when the eye is deformed and fluid can go under the retina. It becomes detached. That is potentially sight-threatening."
Yet, when two players had their eye space primitively invaded, and only by the grace of God did not suffer any serious or life-lasting damage, the citing commissioner sat on his hands and did nothing and by doing so, has given every other player carte blanche to carry on with such reckless actions.
If he seriously believes that none of the incidents that took place in that match did not even merit a ticking off, then he should seek alternative employment. After all, players' careers and respective quality of life are at stake and should not be compromised by a Pontius Pilate imitator.
As Oliver Cromwell said when addressing the Rump Parliament in April 1653: "You have been sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have be done with you. In the name of God, go!"
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Please do not turn a blind eye.
TrackBack URL for this entry: