Senatore guilty of biting Etzebeth

2013-08-30 00:00

PUMAS number eight Leonardo Senatore was yesterday found guilty of biting Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth during the weekend Rugby Championship in Mendoza, but he had been “significantly provoked”.

Senatore was suspended for nine weeks and will miss seven games, including all four of the Argentina’s remaining Rugby Championship internationals.

The incident occurred in the 61st minute of the Test at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza. The Sanzar hearing was held before Australian judicial officer Terry Willis via video conference, with the assistance of former professional player Paul Thomson from New Zealand.

Argentina forward Pablo Matera, also cited after the Mendoza Test, was yesterday cleared of eye-gouging.

Willis heard evidence from Argentine doctor Andrea Boon on behalf of the player, Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts, referee Steve Walsh and Senatore.

“The judicial officer was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that biting took place to the forearm of the South African player Eben Etzebeth such as to constitute a breach of the laws of the game of rugby. Accordingly, the citing complaint was proven,” the Sanzar statement read.

Willis heard that Senatore had an unblemished record having played 19 Tests for Argentina. “After considering the significant provocation caused by the actions of Etzebeth making contact to the head of Senatore, the level of offending was determined as low end.

“In the absence of any aggravating features and significant mitigating factors, it was determined that a seven match suspension was appropriate. He will miss four Test matches in the Rugby Championship and three games for Worcester Warriors.”

Senatore was suspended for nine weeks up to and including October 27.

Fellow-backrower Matera has been cleared of his eye-gouging charge. The 20-year-old Puma flank grabbed the face of Springbok flank Francois Louw at a ruck five minutes into the second half. Replays of the incident showed Louw desperately trying to brush Matera’s hand away, though there was no clear evidence of the Puma flank making contact with the South African’s eyes.

The incident went unnoticed by referee Steve Walsh and the Irish television match official could find no evidence of “eye gouging” during video replays.

After hearing the evidence from eye specialist Dr Michael Delaney, Louw and Matera, Willis said he was not satisfied there was contact with the player’s eyes.

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