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Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

Stade Francais duo made to wait for 'gouging' verdict

Stephen Ferris
Ulster's Stephen Ferris has a finger poked into his eye against Stade Francais

Stade Francais's Julien Dupuy and David Attoub must wait until Friday to hear if they are to be punished for alleged eye-gouging in a Heineken Cup tie.

The duo faced a disciplinary hearing on Thursday over incidents in Stade's loss to Ulster but a verdict was postponed due to "unforeseen travel delays."

The players have already apologised and been penalised by their club for their actions in the game on 12 December.

Punishments for gouging range from a 12-week to a three-year ban.

Television pictures appeared to show Dupuy, the current first-choice scrum-half for France, sticking his fingers into the eyes of Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris late on in Saturday's game which Ulster won 23-13.

If he is found guilty, the former Leicester player, who has six caps for France, could be suspended for the whole of next year's Six Nations tournament.

"The pictures aren't really in my favour, but I really didn't mean to put my fingers in his eyes," Dupuy told a French radio station. "I don't think I'm a dirty player."

Stade even took the unusual step of issuing an official apology over the incident.

The pictures aren't really in my favour but I really didn't mean to put my fingers in his eyes

Stade scrum-half Julien Dupuy

"The club deeply regrets this situation which is detrimental to its image in the United Kingdom and wishes to apologise to the Irish province of Ulster of whom we have deep respect," it said.

The players also apologised for the action.

"It is normal that the club penalises players for actions which are idiotic and stupid," said a statement issued by Dupuy and Attoub.

"Again we apologise to the players and the Ulster club. Our actions were neither premeditated nor intentional.

"We also want to apologise to our club, players and staff for the negative image we've created."

Ulster and Stade Francais are both level on nine points at the top of Pool Four and meet in the return fixture, being played in Brussels, on Saturday.

Thursday's hearing in Dublin did manage to deal with the cases of two other French players, Brive duo Arnaud Mela and Guillaume Ribes.

Hooker Ribes was banned for four weeks for kicking an opponent in their 36-3 loss to London Irish, while lock Mela was banned for seven weeks for punching an opponent in the same game.

It is Mela's third ban for foul play in two years.

He received a three-week suspension for punching Steve Borthwick in a game between Bath and Albi two years ago and a four-week ban in January for striking Paul Emerick in a Challenge Cup game against Overmach Parma.

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see also
Ferris eyes 'tugged at' by Stade man
12 Dec 09 |  Rugby Union
Humphreys lauds Ulster display
12 Dec 09 |  Rugby Union
Ulster 23-13 Stade Francais
12 Dec 09 |  Irish
Edinburgh 17-13 Ulster
17 Oct 09 |  Rugby Union
Ulster 26-12 Bath
09 Oct 09 |  Rugby Union
Stade Francais 24-19 Ulster
24 Jan 09 |  Rugby Union
Ulster 10-26 Stade Francais
11 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union

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