Rugby World Cup 2011: Ghiraldini banned for eye gouging

Leonardo Ghiraldini
Leonardo Ghiraldini in action against Ronan O'Gara during Ireland's win over Italy on Sunday

Italian hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini has been banned for 15 weeks for an eye gouging offence on Ireland prop Cian Healy during Sunday's Pool C clash.

Ghiraldini denied in a hearing that his actions were deliberate but judicial officer Bruce Squire disagreed.

The minimum sanction for the top-end offence is 24 weeks but Ghiraldini's unblemished disciplinary record was taken into account in reducing the ban.

The player will be available for the 2012 Six Nations championship.

His ban will run until 17 January, 2012.

The disciplinary hearing in Auckland

Ghiraldini, Italy's back-up captain, was the starting hooker in three of his side's four pool matches.

The Benetton Treviso has won 41 caps since making his debut in 2006.

He has 48 hours to appeal the decision.