'He is not that sort of player' - Les Kiss rejects Clermont gouging claims against Rory Best
Ulster's director of rugby Les Kiss has rejected claims from Champions Cup rivals Clermont Auvergne that Rory Best should have been cited for eye-gouging in their Belfast win two weeks ago.
The French club, who had one of their players cited and subsequently banned for seven weeks for a similar complaint, also claimed that Best was protected because of the Ireland captain's "stature" in European rugby. Kiss rebuffed that accusation last night, after their 23-7 win over Connacht.
"They made the citing commissioner aware of it and it was clear there was nothing," the Australian said. "We know Rory is not that sort of player. I don't think it was about his status. It just wasn't answerable and the citing commissioner saw it that way."
This week, Clermont's Etienne Falgoux received a seven-week ban for eye-gouging Luke Marshall when the sides met for a second time in France last Sunday.
However, Clermont's sporting director Franck Azéma claimed in a hard-hitting statement that the Disciplinary Committee acknowledged that Falgoux's contact with Marshall was "unintentional" but feels his side have been unfairly treated because they had brought a similar incident to the attention of the committee the previous week. The club released a picture of Davit Zirakashvili's eye alongside the statement.
"We have a real feeling of injustice because last week we asked the Disciplinary Commission on a similar gesture of Rory Best, the Ulster captain who visibly touched the eye area of Dato (Zirakashvili)," said Azéma.
"He did not do this by scratching his eyes in a ruck! We were told that the gesture was 'unintentional' and did not deserve to go through the Disciplinary Committee, when the same arguments were put forward to sanction Etienne.
"There are two weights, two measures, because Best is an icon of European rugby and Etienne a young player. It is unacceptable. The people change, but the drifts remain the same and the French clubs are always charged in the same way while the Anglo-Saxons remain untouchable.
"There is no equity in sanctions and this is very detrimental to Etienne who has always been exemplary in his behaviour. For him, it is humiliating and vexing to start his career with a disciplinary record of this type."