MAX Guazzini, the flamboyant president of Stade Francais, has accused an English judge of anti-French bias after Stade prop David Attoub was yesterday banned for 70 weeks for gouging.
Guazzini also indicated that he would challenge the validity of the suspension -- the second longest for such an offence in the sport's history.
Attoub received his heavy sentence from Judge Jeff Blackett, the RFU's disciplinary officer, who described the attack on Ulster's Stephen Ferris during a Heineken Cup pool match on December 12 as "the worst act of contact with the eyes that I have had to deal with ... deliberate eye gouging".
Blackett, who reserved judgment last night in the case of Saracens' director of rugby Brendan Venter who was charged this month for his outburst against a referee, meted out the punishment to Attoub six days after he handed a 24-week suspension to Julien Dupuy, Attoub's team-mate, which was reduced on appeal by one week.
Dupuy was also found guilty of making contact with Ferris's eyes in the same game. Guazzini suggested that Attoub would appeal, then launched a tirade against the panel chaired by Blackett.
Guazzini said: "We tumbled upon an overzealous judge and with an anti-French bias. (Schalk) Burger (who gouged Luke Fitzgerald on the Lions' tour to South Africa last summer) got eight weeks for the same offence, Attoub receives 70 weeks. Where's the sense in that?"
As things stand, Attoub, who pleaded not guilty, will not be eligible to play rugby again until April 22, 2011.