Bakkies’s ban to be appealed

2009-07-01 00:00

THE Springboks have appealed against the two-week suspension of lock Bakkies Botha and are confident he will be available for Saturday’s third Test against the British Lions at Ellis Park.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has delayed announcing his Test team until tomorrow as he waits on Botha’s appeal and a concussion test on utility forward Danie Rossouw.

Botha was found to be guilty of dangerously charging into a ruck and driving Lions prop Adam Jones off the ball. Jones dislocated a shoulder in the incident and the Welshman will be flying home today.

The Springbok management was furious at the suspension and assistant coach Gary Gold labelled it “preposterous”.

“Bakkies’s technique was perfect, he made every effort to stay on his feet and it was a textbook clean-out at a ruck, exactly how we want him to do it,” Gold told reporters.

Fellow assistant coach Dick Muir agreed, adding that Botha had been found guilty of not binding with another player when he went into the ruck.

“Nowhere in the laws does it say that you have to first bind on another player,” he said.

“We certainly didn’t see any wrong-doing in Bakkies’s challenge and if someone hadn’t been injured in the incident, nothing would have been said,” Muir said.

“It is a major concern for us because there were a lot of incidents in the Test that were a lot tougher and possibly should have been cited. We realise it’s a tough game, but there was no reason for Bakkies to be cited. Our concern is what will happen to the game if you’re not allowed to clean out at the rucks.”

Muir said that the Boks’ preparations had been disrupted by injuries and suspensions, but there would be no problem with motivating the players even if the series had been won.

“We will put out as strong a team as possible. The series has not been for the faint-hearted,” he said of the past 10 days of rugby, adding that the Boks had put the Schalk Burger incident behind them.

“That is done and dusted, Schalk’s been banned, he’s gone back to Cape Town, he’s no longer part of the team,” he said.

“We’re in the process of preparing to win a very important Test match this weekend, important to us as a group of players and coaches, that’s all our focus is on at the moment.

“We realise it’s a tough game,” he added. “We want it physical, but we know where the line is. There’s still a lot of sportsmanship out there. It’s still a very special game,” said Muir.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said yesterday that he would not comment further on the Burger gouging controversy for fear of antagonising the International Rugby Board.

Springbok media manager Anthony Mackaiser told reporters the IRB had expressed concern at De Villiers’s statements defending his flank and late on Monday night SA Rugby president Regan Hoskins was forced into making a public apology.

Bulls flanker Dewald Potgieter and fullback Zane Kirchner have been training with the Boks this week. Potgieter may well be on the bench if the selectors lose Rossouw and Botha. It is believed that Johann Muller would then start, with starting flank Juan Smith covering lock and two loose forwards (Ryan Kankowski and Potgieter) on the bench.

“Johann has always been in the back of our minds and he is a leader of one of our top franchises [the Sharks]. He brings a lot to the team so I’m glad to be able to bring him in,” De Villiers said.

De Villiers said he had not spoken to Lions head coach Ian McGeechan since the Test.

“I have a good relationship with Ian McGeechan. I respect him as a coach. I didn’t see him after the Test [in Pretoria] and didn’t go looking for him because we were celebrating.”

De Villiers again entertained the media briefing with one of his gems when asked why the Boks had not cited any Lions after the second Test.

“The IRB pays a lot of money to guys who do the citing. We don’t, in citing, want to play tit-for-tat, I take your marbles, you take my top.”

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