All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has admitted he was "surprised" the International Rugby Board did not cite French player Aurelien Rougerie for the infamous eye gouge in the Rugby World Cup final.
Speaking for the first time about the incident, McCaw said the final against the French got "filthy" when he was eye-gouged.
"The French are worse when they are scared ... They were as bad as they have been and were going for the eyes," he said.
"My eye was a bit sore for a while and I was struggling to see for a bit. I was surprised they didn't cite him."
Rougerie escaped being cited for foul play in October's final, despite new video evidence showing the France centre had a case to answer. No action could be taken because the new evidence came outside the required 36 hours after the match. The IRB will now look at extending the citing window after reviewing the footage.
At a breakfast fundraiser in Christchurch yesterday, McCaw spoke openly about the eye-gouging incident and other Rugby World Cup experiences.
While he was half-blinded in the final few minutes of the game, the team was trying to decide whether to kick the ball or hold it.
There was confusion over the best way to play and, in a last-minute decision, the All Blacks held the ball. "Everyone thinks we were all composed out there," McCaw said. "At least it worked out OK in the end."
In the moments after the whistle, he felt "sheer relief" but it took a few weeks before the realisation of winning kicked in.
While the final was tense, he said the team had never been better prepared than for the semifinal against the Wallabies. Within minutes of the game starting, "you could see it in their eyes" that the Australians were beaten, McCaw said.
When the Webb Ellis Cup was finally in All Blacks hands, McCaw joked, all the unwritten rules about it went out the window. The cup is never supposed to be alone, no-one is allowed to drink out of it and no-one is allowed to drink near it.
"We broke every single one of them."
He told how the cup's lid was misplaced one night and a player drove for half an hour out of town to find it.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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