Burger to hear his fate today after alleging referee favoured the Bulls

2010-06-01 00:00

STORMERS captain Schalk Burger will hear today if he is to face disciplinary action following his allegations that referee Craig Joubert showed bias towards the Bulls in his handling of Saturday evening’s Super 14 final in Soweto.

And, in a sequel to Burger’s astonishing outburst, André Watson, South African refereeing boss, yesterday released statistics from the final that disproved Burger’s allegations.

Burger told millions of television viewers immediately after his team had been beaten 25-17 that Joubert had blown one set of rules for the Stormers and another for the Bulls at the breakdown.

Later, at the press conference, he endorsed his earlier comment:

“I was unhappy with Joubert’s decisions at the breakdown. I wouldn’t come out and say so in public unless I felt something was wrong. It’s not a case of sour grapes. He’d coach one team [Bulls] at the breakdown and then penalise the other [Stormers].”

Burger was supported by his coach Allister Coetzee.

The Witness contacted Joubert yesterday, but he said he could not comment on the final except to say he had “thoroughly enjoyed the occasion and the incredible atmosphere”.

Watson was far more forthcoming in his response and said that Burger’s comments could have ramifications.

“But that is up to Sanzar [South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby] and is nothing to do with us. I just find it sad that a captain of a team can stand up and make a blanket statement like that and, basically, call the referee a cheat.”

Sanzar’s director in South Africa, Johan Botes, said a decision whether to take the matter further will only be taken today.

“At this stage, the allegations are just hearsay. We are gathering all the facts and detail and Sanzar will then take a decision,” Botes said.

Watson said he was “very happy” with Joubert’s performance.

“He made a number of small mistakes, just as every player does, but there were very few and they were not significant.”

As a result of the media response to Burger’s comments and a number of queries, Watson yesterday studied the tape of the final and released statistics to The Witness.

“There were also reports in various newspapers and websites. I wanted to see whether there were grounds for the allegations. According to the reports, Craig Joubert allegedly ‘coached’ the Bulls, while the Stor­mers were simply penalised.

“I personally went through the tape of the game on our Fair Play system and watched every tackle situation,” Watson said.

Watson, a World Cup final referee, said there had been a total of 167 tackles in the game and, he pointed out, the Bulls had actually been pena­lised more at the breakdown than the Stormers.

“The Stormers carried the ball 85 times and the Bulls a total of 82 times. At these tackle situations, the Stor­mers were penalised five times to the Bulls’ seven.”

At the breakdown, Watson said, Joubert spoke to the Stormers 25 times and to the Bulls 28.

In other words, said Watson, he spoke to the Stormers 31% of the time and 33% for the Bulls.

Watson said that Joubert never repeated himself or coached either team.

“He gave an instruction once and then the ball either came out, or he played advantage, or he penalised the offending player. These statistics and facts show that he didn’t speak to one team more than the other.

“There was not a single occasion when he repeated any warning. Every penalty but two, where he penalised immediately, came after warnings to the offending side.”

A total of 19 penalties were awar­ded in the final, 11 to the Bulls and eight to the Stormers.

“The difference, really, in the penalty count came with the three scrum infringements by the Stormers and they were so obvious even my granny would have awarded them.”

The contentious area was around the tackle and the seven Bulls players penalised in that area, according to Watson, were Wynand Olivier, Danie Rossouw, Pierre Spies, Jaco Pretorius, Pedrie Wannenburg (twice) and Bandise Maku.

The five Stormers blown were Jaque Fourie, Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen, Gio Aplon and Joe Pietersen.

“I think these stats make nonsense of these purely negative criticisms of Craig’s refereeing and it really spoilt what was a wonderful occasion,” said Watson.

Meanwhile, the SA Rugby Union confirmed yesterday that the Stor­mers’ second try in the final was scored by reserve Pieter Louw and not Ricky Januarie.

Januarie was tackled short of the line in the closing minutes, after which Louw picked up the ball and scored the try.

The television replay of the incident concentrated on Januarie falling short and did not show the subsequent action.

Most of the media assumed that referee Joubert had made the wrong call in awarding the try to Januarie.

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