Baffling ruling blocks Bakkies

2009-07-03 00:00

THE IRB’s appeal committee yesterday turned down Bakkies Botha’s appeal against his two-week suspension in a decision that could have far-reaching implications for the game.

Botha was found to have charged dangerously into a ruck “without binding”.

Rugby coaches the world over will be mystified as players are taught to clean out at the breakdown to protect possession — exactly as Botha did — without first binding.

The Springbok lock appeared to clean out by the book as he entered the ruck “through the gate” and not from the side and he stayed on his feet.

The Appeal Committee, in their usual and confusing legal jargon, said “a very important point of principle was developed as to the proper application of this Law and in particular when a player lawfully binds or attempts to bind for the purpose of this Law.”

“The Appeal Committee will set out its conclusion in a full decision as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, SA Rugby released a statement last night pointing out that that the official judicial officer “specifically cleared Schalk Burger of eye gouging but found him guilty of committing an act contrary to good sportsmanship by making contact with the face in the eye area of Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald” in the Loftus Test.

Burger said he has always played “hard and fair”.

“I am not a rugby thug and will never intentionally engage in eye gouging or similar illegal actions. This was also the case in the second Test against the Lions.

“I am therefore grateful that the Judicial Officer confirmed my stance with his conclusion that there was no deliberate eye gouging as charged by the Citing Official.”

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