Newcastle Falcons wing Mateo Carreras has been suspended for nine weeks following an incident in the recently concluded Gallagher Premiership game against Wasps at Kingston Park.
The 21-year-old was cited by independent citing commissioner Chris Sharp for making intentional contact with eye of Wasps winger Josh Bassett for allegedly breaching World Rugby Law 9.12 that deals with contact with eye(s) or in the alternative, reckless contact with eye(s).
Even though the incident was reviewed by the TMO, Carreras did not face any on-field sanctions.
The Argentinian winger faced an independent disciplinary committee comprising Charles Cuthbert (chair) with Daniel White and Leon Lloyd on Wednesday and was proved guilty of the charges. He was initially handed a 18-week ban that was reduced by half taking into account the mitigating factors.
"The player accepted that he had committed an act of foul play in that he intentionally made contact with the eye of an opponent. His evidence was that he had intended to ‘irritate’ the Wasps player but that he had not intended to cause any harm in his action. He accepted on reflection that by making contact with the eye of Josh Bassett he risked causing serious injury though this was a momentary action without thought for the consequences. Thankfully, there was no injury caused other than a temporary discomfort," read a statement from independent disciplinary panel.
"The panel considered that the action warranted a mid-range starting point due to the fact Josh Bassett was vulnerable at the time of the incident, there had been fleeting pressure to the eye and it was a grave, intentional act. The entry point for mid-range is 18 weeks.
"The player had admitted the offence which the panel accepted took some courage given the stigma attached to offences of this nature. He has a clean disciplinary record over a number of years as a professional player, expressed remorse for his actions and engaged with the process positively despite requiring the assistance of a translator. In line with the regulatory framework, the panel applied 50% mitigation.
"The panel note that this incident has been referred to as an eye ‘gouge’ and would direct attention to the formal wording of the Law which is ‘Intentional contact with the eye(s)’. The phrase ‘gouge’ does not appear in the charge.”
Carreras will be free to play from 15th June subject to Newcastle Falcons' progression in the European Challenge Cup.