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DEYEABOLICAL.

This is the shaming moment of criminal savagery when playing a blinder took on a terrifyingly sinister meaning.

And it was one in the eye for rugby thugs everywhere when New Zealand North Harbour flanker Troy Flavell was kicked out of the game for a year for eye gouging.

The victim, Wellington winger Steve Skinnon, suffered double vision after the match - but would not point the finger at 20-year-old Flavell. Disciplinary watchdogs studied the horror photographs and listened to the nightmare evidence of two photographers in a five-hour judicial hearing. Then they banned Flavell, a New Zealand colt in his debut year in first division rugby, for 12 months.

Committee chairman Nick Davidson said: "The photos showed compelling evidence that Flavell's thumb was firmly in the Wellington player's eye."

Ken Tarr, president of the Opthalmol-ogical Society, said he was surprised Skinnon did not suffer permanent injury and added: "It is only regulation which separates sport from pure barbaric violence. A year's ban is nothing compared to a lifetime's blindness."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Macauley, Ted
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 29, 1997
Words:169
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