Stringer ‘disgusted and angry’ after spitting incident
Stade Francais’ Fillol could face lengthy ban after Challenge Cup quarter-final
Bath scrumhalf Peter Stringer tackles Jerome Fillol of Stade Francais during the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final at the Recreation Ground. Photograph: Tom Dulat/Getty Images
Bath 20 Stade Francais 36: Former Ireland scrumhalf Peter Stringer admits he was “disgusted and angry” after appearing to be spat at during Bath’s Amlin Challenge Cup defeat to Stade Francais at the Recreation Ground.
Stade Francais’ Jerome Fillol looks set to become the first professional player to be cited for spitting at an opponent after television cameras caught the French scrumhalf spitting in the face of Stringer.
European Rugby Cup officials are to investigate the complaint that could see Fillol facing a lengthy ban, while International Rugby Board chief executive Brett Gosper tweeted: “Spitting on Stringer should be punished to the full extent of the law. #NotRugby.”
The independent citing officer, Ireland’s Eugene Ryan, has 50 hours from kick-off to decide whether to cite Fillol for the 25th-minute incident at the Rec.
Today, Stringer tweeted: “Disgusted at what happened yesterday in the game. No place for it in rugby or any walk of life.”
Stringer and Fillol had already exchanged words before they clashed.
Television replays showed a verbal exchange before a scrum and Fillol then aimed a spit in the face of the on-loan Munster player.
Following the game, Stringer said: “That’s never happened to me before in my career and there’s no place for it in rugby.
“It’s about as low as anyone can possibly go and I'm still a bit raw after being in the receiving end.
“I was a bit rattled for a while but then you try not to dwell on it and get on with the game. It's out of my hands now.”
Bath have made a formal complaint over the incident during the first half.
Bath coach Toby Booth said: "Peter is very angry. I didn't see the incident but I would be disappointed, as I'm sure everyone would be, if it's proved to be true because there's no place for it at all."
Bath prop Paul James added: "The guy spat in his (Stringer's) face. It was disgusting."
Stade Francais declined to comment and claimed they were unaware of the incident when they left The Rec on Saturday.
Under the International Rugby Board regulation 10.4 (l), the offence carries a four-week suspension for what is regarded a low end incident, rising to seven to mid-level and a at least 11 weeks, with a maximum of 52 weeks, for the worst offenders.
In December 2011, Uttoxeter wing Paul Millward, 28, was banned for a year by the RFU for spitting at a female spectator during a bad-tempered Midlands 3 West (north) clash against Stourbridge Lions.
Millward was found guilty of conduct prejudicial to the interest of the Union and/or the game.
Last month England flanker Tom Croft was forced to deny he had spat at Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny during their Six Nations tie in Cardiff following allegations on Twitter. Halfpenny later denied any such incident.
As well as shocking, the incident at Bath was surprising as it was out of character from 35-year-old Fillol, among the most experienced players in Europe having made his first Heineken Cup appearance 15 years ago for Toulouse in 1998.
However fellow rugby stars rounded on the Frenchman.
World Cup winner Will Greenwood said on Twitter: "Fillol, good player but when you spit you cross a line. Disgrace."
Former Wales and British Lion Gareth Thomas added: "Oh no, he just spat in his face. No place for that. Get him off. Disgrace to the game."
And Harlequins and England wing Ugo Monye said: "Jerome Fillol is a disgrace. To spit at someone's face anywhere, let alone on the rugby pitch, is disgusting. Hope he gets banned for a long time."