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Rugby player loses an eye

PUBLISHED: 14:33 03 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:26 23 August 2010

A RUGBY player who was blinded in one eye after an alleged gouging incident has called for his attacker to be banned for life. Clarence Harding, 26 who was playing for Gravesend Rugby Football Club (GRFC) in a cup match at Maidstone RFC, on January 17, w

A RUGBY player who was blinded in one eye after an alleged gouging incident has called for his attacker to be banned for life.

Clarence Harding, 26 who was playing for Gravesend Rugby Football Club (GRFC) in a cup match at Maidstone RFC, on January 17, was rushed to hospital after the alleged assault.

Unfortunately surgeons were unable to save the vision in his right eye during a further operation on last month and now believe he is unlikely to regain his sight because the optic nerve was severed.

South African born Mr Harding only took the game up again in November after a 10-year absence from the sport following his families return to the UK.

"Anybody who has played rugby for more than two days understands that you can't do this," he said.

"This guy can't be on the rugby pitch because he might injure someone again. I am lucky in that I am only blind in one eye and it is still in my head but what happens if he gets someone in both eyes?"

The Number 8 confessed to being completely devastated when told of the extent of his injuries but has vowed not to let this ruin his life.

"When the surgeon told me I was blind I admit I broke down in his office," he admitted.

"I have been offered counselling but I can deal with this alone, I hope to get back playing again and now I have a chance to concentrate on my guitar playing."

Records show that no GRFC player has suffered an injury this severe. Chairman Graham Haggar said: "We regard eye-gouging as sly, cowardly and vicious as does the rest of the rugby fraternity, it has no place in our sport - or in any other activity.Any player found to have committed such an act should be banned from rugby for life and should face the full weight of the criminal law."

A Kent police spokesperson confirmed that they were investigating the incident.

When contacted by the Reporter Maidstone RFC chairperson Wendy Pound refused to be drawn on the matter because of the ongoing police investigation.

The club however did release a statement, it said: "Maidstone Football Club, in its entirety, is cognisant of the seriousness of this injury and wishes to express its sympathy to the player concerned.

"Kent Police have been asked to investigate the incident that led to this injury and Maidstone RFC is complying fully with this process.

"Until such time as this investigation is completed, we have been advised to suspend our own internal investigation.

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