Best banned for 18 weeks

Best banned for 18 weeks

Ireland rugby international Neil Best has been banned for 18 weeks by the Rugby Football Union after admitting illegally making contact with the eye or eye area of Wasps’ James Haskell with his hand during a Guinness Premiership game on September 20.

After a two-and-a-half-hour hearing in London yesterday, attended by Best, the three-man RFU panel decided on further discussions this morning, prior to handing down their decision.

He cannot play again until January 28 next year, missing eight rounds of Premiership action, plus all of Northampton’s European Challenge Cup and EDF Energy Cup pool matches.

Best, capped 18 times by Ireland and a member of the 2007 World Cup squad, appeared before a three-man panel chaired by the RFU's disciplinary officer, His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett.

Best had been cited by Premiership citing officer Ken Pattinson following Saints’ 24-20 victory over Wasps at Franklin’s Gardens.

Haskell gave evidence before the panel, confirming his written statement made after the game that the player (Best) "gratuitously commenced to gouge at (his) eye with increasing intensity".

Haskell, a contender to captain England in their autumn Tests next month, said his vision became increasingly blurred, he suffered excruciating pain and felt physically sick because of soreness.

He was later taken to Northampton General Hospital, where an ophthalmologist diagnosed a corneal abrasion and prescribed antibiotic drops.

Photographs taken a day after the game showed significant swelling around Haskell’s eye, which was closed and bruised, with a one-centimetre scratch on his upper eyelid.

Best, whose Northampton team-mate Dylan Hartley received a six-month suspension for eye-gouging last year, told the panel he had acted recklessly, and not deliberately.


More in this Section

Police request for Liverpool’s potential title win to be played at neutral venuePolice request for Liverpool’s potential title win to be played at neutral venue

Inter Milan extending Ashley Young's deal at San SiroInter Milan extending Ashley Young's deal at San Siro

League of Ireland Legends: Alfie Hale - The man with the goal-den touchLeague of Ireland Legends: Alfie Hale - The man with the goal-den touch

The key questions on the impact of coronavirus on footballThe key questions on the impact of coronavirus on football


Lifestyle

A whiff of new normality is in the air, writes Des O'SullivanAntiques: How to put a post-lockdown world in the frame

Another week, another fiendishly fun test of your arts and showbiz knowledge from Irish Examiner Arts Editor Des O'DriscollScene & Heard: Fun culture quiz

The story of how the Cork-based executive head chef faced her “demons” and turned around her life just before her 30th birthday.This is me: Trisha Lewis transforms her body and mindset

A star-studded finale from the Late Late Show and a classic Brazil v France encounter feature among today's top tips.Friday's TV Highlights: A star-studded finale from the Late Late Show and a classic Brazil v France encounter

More From The Irish Examiner