26 Oct 2011

Eye gouging denied by French team

12:16 pm on 26 October 2011

The rugby editor of a French newspaper says the French team has denied attempting to eye-gouge All Blacks captain Richie McCaw during the Rugby World Cup final.

Richard Escot of L'Equipe told Morning Report that McCaw told his reporters in Christchurch that something happened, but would not explain further.

Escot says McCaw is not a liar and they take him at his word.

He says if an eye-gouge did occur, the French media are ashamed and will seek an explanation from their players.

Escot said it was a rough match, with players from both sides taking big hits.

He accused the New Zealand Herald of running an anti-French campaign following the final on Sunday night.

Escot said the French players were upset by the Herald's coverage and were abused by New Zealanders when they left Eden Park.

He said some members of the team were too scared to leave their hotel room afterwards.

For the record McCaw has said he was poked in the eye, but stopped short of accusing the French of eye gouging.

Rugby commentator Keith Quinn says the incident needs to be properly investigated. The question is whether it was deliberate or accidental.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew says no disciplinary action is likely, as the citing period for the game is now over.