Bakkies Botha off the hook, JP Nel pays for Terreblanche tackle

2009-05-19 00:00

COMBATIVE Springbok and Bulls lock Bakkies Botha was let off the hook yesterday, but team-mate and centre JP Nel’s Super 14 season is over and he will miss the play-offs.

Botha was cleared of striking Sharks number eight Ryan Kank-owski in Saturday night’s Super 14 game at King’s Park, but late last night centre Nel was suspended for four weeks following a dangerous tackle on Sharks fullback Stefan Terblanche.

Botha was cleared to play in the Super 14 semi-final against the Crusaders at Loftus on Saturday, but Nel is out of rugby until mid-June.

The disciplinary hearings were held in Pretoria last night following the citings of the Bulls lock after he pushed Kankowski in the face at a ruck in the opening minutes of the game, and Nel’s felling of Terblanche which resulted in a yellow card for the Bulls centre and medical treatment for the Sharks fullback.

Botha and Nel were both represented by lawyer Gerrie Swart and their cases were heard by Sanzar judicial officer, attorney Dekker Govender.

Botha’s defence was that he pushed Kankowski rather than deliberately struck him. Govender said he viewed the video evidence and took into consideration that referee Craig Joubert was in full view of the incident. Govender ruled that there was no intent from the Bulls lock to strike Kankowski and added that Botha pushed the Sharks loose forward Kankowski to release himself from his grasp.

Govender was not as lenient with Nel, the Bulls centre who regularly attends disciplinary hearings, and he was banned for four weeks. The sentence will come as some surprise to Bulls captain Victor Matfield, who said after the game that he thought his centre would be cleared “after Terblanche ducked and was hit by JP’s bicep.”

The defence argued strongly that the tackle on Terblanche was not dangerous. Govender, after viewing the video evidence, ruled that the tackle from Nel was indeed dangerous and, after considering relevant mitigating circumstances, Nel was suspended for four weeks from all rugby up to June 13.

As a result, the Bulls centre will miss Saturday’s Super 14 semi-final against the Crusaders in Pretoria, but he has the right to appeal the suspension.

Govender was the judicial officer who last week cleared the Waratahs’ Brett Sheehan of a dangerous head-high charge on Brad Barritt, which left the Sharks centre with concussion and forced him out of Saturday’s game against the Bulls.

The Bulls are still waiting on the fitness of their star centre Wynand Olivier. The Bulls doctor Org Strauss said yesterday that Olivier was still in a great deal of pain from the hip injury which forced him from the field in the first half on Saturday.

”There is a possibility that Wynand will play but his hip is badly bruised and a final call will only be made later in the week.”

The loss of Olivier and Nel, the Bulls’ first-choice centre pairing, would leave a massive hole in the midfield for the semi-final. Jaco Pretorius, who replaced Olivier during the game on Saturday, is the obvious selection at outside centre while Ludeke is likely to recall former Springbok Wayne Julies at inside centre, with Marius Delport providing cover off the bench.

Saturday’s semi-final at Loftus kicks off at 3 pm and New Zealan­der Bryce Lawrence will handle the game. Australian referee Stuart Dickin­son is to take charge in Hamilton where the Chiefs face fellow New Zealanders, the Hurricanes, at 9.35 am (SA time) on Saturday.

‘There is a possibility that Wynand will play, but his hip is badly bruised and a final call will only be made later the week. .... He is still in a great deal of pain’

Bulls team doctor Org Strauss said yesterday about Whynand Olivier’s fitness after a hip injury forced him from the field on Saturday.

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