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The Biters: sportsmen who sank their teeth into their opponents

by | 23rd, April 2013

WITH Downing Street intervening to suggest that Luis Suarez should receive a sentence that reflects his position as a role model, it’s clear that the feisty Uruguayan’s crime has transcended the world of football and become a matter of national importance. But how exceptional were his antics? After all, it’s not the first time this kind of thing has happened. In fact, it’s not even the first time it has happened to Suarez himself. As recently as 2010 he was banned for seven matches after biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal…

Typical foreign skullduggery, just the kind of thing we don’t want creeping into our game. OK, it might have happened here before, when Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe had a nibble at Javier Mascherano in 2006. But Defoe is an England international, and Not That Sort Of Player. Well, the football authorities certainly thoughts so, and declined to add any extra punishment to his original yellow card…

Not that all pecks are vicious. Francesco Gallardo decided to celebrate team-mate Jose Antonio Reyes’s goal by biting him in the most unexpected place…

When considering traditional biting sports, one’s thoughts inevitably turn to rugby, the proverbial sport of thugs played by gentlemen.

Johan le Roux of South Africa got an 18-month ban for biting the All Blacks captain’s ear in 1994. The Proteas prop went to court to challenge it, without success. He commented: ‘For an 18-month suspension, I feel I probably should have torn it off. Then at least I could say, “look, I’ve returned to South Africa with the guy’s ear”.’ On his first game back after the ban, he was sent off for a head-butt.

 The Biters: sportsmen who sank their teeth into their opponents Biting2 The Biters: sportsmen who sank their teeth into their opponents

Ulster’s Pedrie Wannenburg allegedly took a nip at Northampton’s Dylan Hartley during this Heineken Cup game in 2011…

The following year, however, it was Hartley’s turn to be cited, as the Northampton captain was found guilty of an ‘act contrary to good sportsmanship’ during England’s match against Ireland in 2012, after biting Stephen Ferris…

Rugby League is no better, although England international James Graham received a slightly longer ban the same year for a similar offence while playing in Australia. The incident triggered a mass brawl between his Canterbury side and opponents Melbourne…

In ice hockey, full-scale punch-ups are apart and parcel of the game. Biting, less so, if only because of the sheer effort involved in chewing through all that protective clothing. All the same, it has been known to happen on occasion.

Ottowa Senators’ Jarkko Ruutu was fined fined $31,700 for biting Andrew Peters of the Buffalo Sabres. ‘It goes too far for any player. It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s not part of hockey,’ said Ruutu. ‘I just hope kids don’t think that’s acceptable. It’s not acceptable at any level.’

Then in the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup, Alex Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks bit Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins…

Basketball is an even less likely scene of for dental destruction. But that didn’t stop Tree Rollins biting Danny Ainge’s finger down to the tendon in 1983. ‘We got into a little scuffle out on the court by the foul line and he almost bit my finger off,’ said Ainge. ‘He bit it all the way through. I had to get two stitches.’

But of course the most famous sporting bite of all came in 1997, when Suarez’s Twitter-follower Mike Tyson took a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear and the boxing authorities took Tyson’s license.

And finally, the one that got away. Meet Uga, the mascot of the University of Georgia. Auburn’s Robert Baker met Uga on 1996. Fortunately, the meeting was not physical. Close thing though…



Posted: 23rd, April 2013 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink