Canada’s attempt to qualify for the 2023 Rugby World Cup is over, after a 54-46 aggregate loss to Chile victory in a two-legged qualifying series.
But the search for justice off the field continues.
Rugby Canada has asked World Rugby to review an alleged eye-gouging incident from the first leg of the series, won 22-21 by Canada on Oct. 2 at Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C.
Photos of the incident were posted on social media by Toronto Arrows scrum half Jamie Mackenzie.
They show Canadian back Spencer Jones on the ground next to a Chilean player, who has his fingers in Jones’ face.
“Surprisingly, as a halfback I like a bit of grit, but there’s no room for this BS in the game,” said Mackenzie, who collected his 21st Canada cap at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
A Rugby Canada spokeswoman declined to comment on the photos.
But two sources, granted anonymity because the discussions on the matter have not been made public, confirmed that the governing body has reached out to World Rugby.
Players can be cited for rules infractions after a test match, but there is a limited time window — usually two days after the match — to make a case.
While teams can make a case for a citing, it is up to an independent citing commissioner appointed for the match to decide whether the request goes forward.
The incident is then reviewed by a disciplinary committee, with the players involved able to make their case.
Penalties for eye-gouging can be, understandably, harsh.
Former England captain Dylan Hartley was banned was for 26 weeks in April 2007 after being found guilty of two counts of the offence.
Stade Francais prop David Attoub was banned for 70 weeks after he was deemed guilty of gouging in 2010.
Canada, currently ranked 23rd in the world, ended up facing Chile after losing a qualifying series to the U.S. Eagles.
The Canadian men’s qualifying journey ended in a 33-24 loss Oct. 9 in Valparaiso, Chile.
The 17th-ranked Americans then lost to No. 16 Uruguay, which qualifies as Americas 1 for France 2023.
No. 26 Chile now faces the U.S. to determine who qualifies as Americas 2.
This marks the first time Canada has failed to qualify for the sport’s showcase, which dates back to 1987
Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 17, 2021
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press