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All Black captain McCaw slams 'filthy' French

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Article Published: Tuesday 6 December 2011

All Blacks and Crusaders captain Richie McCaw has broken his silence about allegedly being eye gouged in the Rugby World Cup final, reportedly accusing France of "filthy" play in the tournament decider.

McCaw said he was surprised French centre Aurelien Rougerie was not cited over the alleged gouge late in the October 23 final, which New Zealand won 8-7, Fairfax Media reported.

Speaking for the first time about the incident, McCaw accused the French of "filthy" play in the final minutes of the match.

"The French are worse when they are scared.... They were as bad as they have been and were going for the eyes," he told a business function in Christchurch on Monday, Fairfax reported.

"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."

The New Zealand camp downplayed the eye gouge allegation in the immediate aftermath of the World Cup win and by the time video evidence emerged it was more than 36 hours after the final whistle, the deadline for citing a player.

Television footage released by Sky Television in New Zealand appeared to show Rougerie raking his hand across McCaw's face as the All Blacks captain lay trapped on the ground.

The IRB said last month that following the controversy it was considering extending the 36-hour window in which a player can be cited for serious foul play.

McCaw also revealed his "sheer relief" at the win, which ended a 24-year World Cup drought for an All Blacks team under intense pressure to claim the Webb Ellis Cup on home soil.

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