Irish angry at Boks’ allegation of eye-gouging

2009-12-02 00:00

THE Springboks suffered another defeat yesterday when they boobed in their tit-for-tat citing of Irish number eight Jamie Heaslip for eye-gouging.

The Boks have attempted all year to steer away from making allegations of foul play during their many Test matches, but last week, in the build-up to the Irish Test, they were annoyed when opposition players and the Dublin media made a meal of the South Africans’ dirty play and Schalk Burger’s alleged eye-gouging during the British Lions tour.

Their response was to request match citing commissioner Douglas Hunter to investigate a claim that Heaslip had gouged the eye of Bok flank Heinrich Brüssow in the first half of Saturday’s Test.

Hunt yesterday dismissed the charges after viewing video replays and the South Africans could produce no evidence of any eye-gouging at Croke Park

Irish Rugby Football Union officials have reacted angrily to the Springboks’ allegation, claiming they are “very disappointed” that one of their players was involved and named in an “unsubstantiated referral”.

“The Six Nations has confirmed to the Irish Rugby Football Union that none of a number of referrals made by South Africa against Ireland players has been upheld by the independent citing commissioner that was present at the game between Ireland and South Africa in Croke Park,” said the IRFU statement.

“The Ireland management is, however, very disappointed that the name of an Ireland player was subsequently associated with eye-gouging in the media as a result of one of these unsubstantiated referrals.

“The Ireland management fully support and believe in the integrity of the citing process in place, but believe that any referrals in this process should be made only when they are material and substantial.

“The Ireland management will be making no further comment and consider the matter closed.”

What is certain is that the animosity between these two teams will now continue to simmer and the Springbok management have done themselves no favours in making these unsubstantiated claims following another Dublin defeat.

Meanwhile, following months of confusion over the scrums and the laws that govern them, SA Rugby has turned to former Springbok prop Balie Swart for help.

Swart, a World Cup-winning Springbok in 1995, has been given an innovative new role by SA Rugby to assist coaches and referees in the proper application of the scrum law.

Swart was yesterday named a referee selector for the 2010 season by SA Rugby, but will have a dual role as a go-between for coaches and the refereeing hierarchy and as a coach of legal scrumming technique.

“Balie worked with our referees throughout the 2009 season on a one-on-one basis to keep them up to date with scrumming technique and how it impacted on the application of law by match officials,” said André Watson, SA Rugby’s manager of referees.

“We’ve now appointed him as a referee selector 2010 and, in addition, coaches are invited to bring matters to his attention regarding refereeing.”

Swart will also be available to provinces to help in coaching legal and safe scrumming technique.

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