England flank James Haskell insisted the black eye he'd received in a 13-9 opening World Cup win against Argentina was a battle scar well worth having.
But the loose forward was furious when he emerged from the base of the game's final ruck in stoppage time, with his teammates celebrating the award of a penalty that ended Argentina's last hope of winning the game through a late try.
On broadcast television footage of the match Haskell could clearly be heard uttering an expletive-laden rant at an unidentified Argentina opponent as he got to his feet.
Referee Bryce Lawrence took no additional action other than to tell the players to calm down and continued with his award of the penalty for a separate ruck offence.
Eye-gouging is regarded as one of the worst acts of foul play in rugby, being both underhand and dangerous, and carries a maximum ban of three years.
But Haskell, speaking to reporters after the match, said: "At the last breakdown I got a bit hit up.
"I got cleared out, I had hands in my face and I think it was just a bit of over-exuberance in the end. In the heat of the moment, you react as you do.
"It's nothing really," Haskell, playing at openside flank in place of injured England captain Lewis Moody, added.
And he said he had no intention of making a citing, which could lead to an Argentina player being suspended.
"We have to focus on our own performance without worrying about other stuff," said the 26-year-old back-row, who'll join Japan's Ricoh Black Lambs from Paris-based Stade Francais after the end of England's involvement in the World Cup.
Haskell though insisted he did not condone players being poked in the eye.
"Not at all. It has happened to me a few times in my career. I was obviously just stressed, it was a difficult game, we were under pressure. I got cleared out and had a hand on my face, it was nothing."
England, aiming to appear in a third consecutive World Cup final, failed to get on New Zealand official Lawrence's wavelength and conceded eight penalties in the first half alone as Argentina dominated the breakdown.
"We knew it was going to be a tough day," said Haskell of playing the Pumas, who finished third at the 2007 World Cup in France.
"We didn't play to the referee like we should have done and we got penalised a lot.
"Argentina are big men and disruptive, they make everything into a fight and if you are not 100 percent accurate, you give away penalties.
"The referees obviously have been told to referee the breakdown stringently. They are hammering the offside rule. We didn't adjust as well as we needed to.
"Credit to Argentina, because they made it very difficult."
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