Argentina's Leonardo Senatore and Rugby's Other Infamous Biting Incidences
Argentina's 22-17 loss to South Africa in The Rugby Championship made headlines last weekend due to two acts of alleged foul play, including one of biting by Argentine Leonardo Senatore.
Considering the amount of time players spend in close proximity with each other's body parts and the particularly rough nature of the game, biting is not a common happening in rugby.
It likely happened on a far more regular basis in previous eras before the introduction of professionalism ushered in stricter penalties, red and yellow cards as well as the all-seeing TV cameras to assess every transgression.
But when it does happen, as it allegedly did last weekend, it captures headlines across the globe.
Rugby is by no means the only sport in which biting occurs—ahem, step forward, Luis Suarez and Mike Tyson—but here are the infamous incidents that did happen in the sport.
Leonardo Senatore, Argentina
Argentina's battling defeat to South Africa should have got the rugby community talking because of the much-improved performance by the Pumas.
Instead, it will be remembered for two alleged incidents, one of eye-gouging and the other biting by Argentina's Leonardo Senatore on Springbok giant Eben Etzebeth.
After reviewing the incident, the citing commissioner deemed it worthy of a red card and Senatore—who plays for English club Worcester—now faces a disciplinary hearing and possibly a ban.
Senatore is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (m) Acts contrary to good sportsmanship when he allegedly bit South African player Eben Etzebeth.
Upon further review of the match footage, the Citing Commissioner deemed in his opinion the incident had met the Red Card threshold for foul play.
Dylan Hartley, England
England hooker Dylan Hartley knows a thing or two about bans. His most recent infraction saw him miss this summer's British and Irish Lions tour after being given his marching orders for swearing at a referee.
But it was his ban for biting the finger of Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris during the 2012 Six Nations that sees him named on this list, an act that resulted in an eight-week ban for the feisty hooker.
The incident was missed by the match officials, though referee Nigel Owens took note when Ferris showed him the bite marks.
Owens also warned both captains that had he seen it the player would have received an immediate red card.
Earlier in his career Hartley was banned for six months for gouging two Wasps players during an English league match, which is arguably his worst indiscretion on what is a pretty long rap sheet.
Johan Le Roux, South Africa
Hookers have enough to worry about in terms of their ears getting mangled for 80 minutes every week, but in 1994 former New Zealand skipper Sean Fitzpatrick also had to contend with bloodthirsty prop Johan le Roux.
Nicknamed The Beast, le Roux also decided to do his best vampire impression by chomping on Fitzpatrick's ear during the Springboks' 13-9 loss in Wellington.
Le Roux was sent home by the South African management immediately after the match and received a hefty 17-month ban that wound up ending his career.
He also suffered retribution during the match when Fitzpatrick, who ended the game with blood oozing from his ear, enjoyed his moment of retaliation (go to 2:20).
Clearly le Roux was not happy about his ban and had this to say to The Star: "For an 18-month suspension, I feel I probably should have torn it off. Then at least I could say, 'Look, I've returned to South Africa with the guy's ear.'"
Danny Grewcock, England
What's a man to do when an opponent puts his finger in your mouth during a game? Some might think the natural reaction would be to bite the offending digit so the owner thinks twice about doing it again.
That seems to have been the reaction of Danny Grewcock when he experienced the finger of All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu in his mouth during the second Test of the 2005 Lions tour to New Zealand.
The lock was somewhat of an enforcer for both England and his club Bath and had a checkered disciplinary record. So why Mealamu thought it safe to go anywhere near his mouth is anyone's guess.
Grewcock received a two-month ban for his actions, which were eloquently described in a subsequent IRB statement, as carried by the BBC.
The judicial officer accepted that Mealamu's fingers inadvertently entered Grewcock's mouth at the breakdown.
But rather than removing the fingers in a more conventional way, Grewcock bit Mealamu's right ring finger, and accordingly he found that the player was guilty of biting.
Grewcock maintained his innocence but had no choice but to miss the remainder of the ill-fated tour.
Kevin Yates, Bath
Perhaps the most serious of all biting incidents came in an English club match in 1998 when London Scottish flanker Simon Fenn emerged from a ruck with blood pouring from his ear.
The injury required 25 stitches and, following a lengthy enquiry, Bath prop Kevin Yates was eventually named as the culprit. Canada-born Yates, who had two England caps at the time, always maintained his innocence.
The act resulted in this quote by referee Ashley Rowden, as carried by the New Zealand Herald: "In my experience as a referee, I've never experienced anything like it. The player was clearly missing some part of his ear lobe. There was a lot of blood."
Whether he was innocent or not, Yates decided to pack his bags after receiving a six-month ban and headed down to New Zealand to play Super Rugby for the Wellington Hurricanes.
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