Newcastle will be without Argentine back Mateo Carreras for nine weeks.
Carreras was cited by independent citing commissioner Chris Sharp following the match between Newcastle Falcons and Wasps on Friday 19 March. The citing was for intentional contact with eye(s), contrary to World Rugby Law 9.12 or in the alternative, reckless contact with eye(s), contrary to World Rugby Law 9.12.
Carreras accepted the charge of intentional contact with the eye(s) and was given a nine-week suspension by the independent disciplinary panel comprising Charles Cuthbert (chair) with Daniel White and Leon Lloyd. He will be free to play on the 15 June subject to Newcastle’s progression in the European Challenge Cup.
The independent disciplinary panel said: "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.
"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 miss the following matches:
- 28 March - Gallagher Premiership Rugby: Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons
- 3 April - European Challenge Cup: Ospreys v Newcastle Falcons
- 9/10/11 April - European Challenge Cup quarter-final (if applicable)
- 17 April - Gallagher Premiership Rugby: Newcastle Falcons v Bristol Bears
- 24 April - Gallagher Premiership Rugby: Gloucester Rugby v Newcastle Falcons
- 30/1/2 May - European Challenge Cup semi-final (if applicable)
- 7/8/9 May - Gallagher Premiership Rugby: Newcastle Falcons v London Irish
- 14/15/16 May - Gallagher Premiership Rugby: Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints
- weekend 21 May - European Challenge Cup final (if applicable)
- 28/09/30 May - Gallagher Premiership Rugby: Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons*
- 4/5/6. June - Gallagher Premiership Rugby: Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors*
- 11/12/13 June - Gallagher Premiership Rugby: Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons*
*fixtures may be included subject to European Challenge Cup performance.