Samoan testicle grab citing dismissed as accidental

2013-06-24 00:00

THE Samoans took a beating from the Springboks on the field on Saturday night, but somehow escaped serious punishment in the boardroom yesterday when two of their players faced charges of foul play.

The Springboks’ composure in the face of heavy enemy fire was the outstanding feature of their 56-23 win over Samoa in the Incoming Series final at Loftus Versfeld.

The Samoans, growing increasingly frustrated and cynical as the Springboks squeezed the life out of them, tested the match officials and the citing commissioner with the range of their indiscretions.

But yesterday judicial officer Jeff Blackett, of the England Rugby Union, was lenient in his handling of the two Samoans who were charged. Fullback James So’oialo’s citing for testicle-grabbing was dismissed, while wing Alesana Tuilagi was suspended for only two weeks after Springbok captain Jean de Villiers was taken out with a stiff-armed, head-high tackle and without the ball.

De Villiers played the Test with a damaged sternum, but his reaction to the assault — a whimsical smile and a forgiving handshake — was remarkable. “I know the Lord sent his angels to protect me,” he said later.

Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss was the victim of an impromptu and public examination of his family jewels by So’oialo. Video referee Deon van Blommenstien had some difficulty explaining the nature of the offence to French referee Pascal Gauzère, and the sensitive television audience, but it seemed that So’oialo was fortunate to stay on the field.

The Samoan fullback was charged after the game, but escaped censure yesterday when Blackett decided that the contact was accidental.

“If I am to uphold this citing, I must conclude that the player has lied to me,” he said. “My assessment is that he is honest. He immediately accepted that he had grabbed an opponent’s testicles, and he said that there is no room in the game for insidious acts.

“Strauss himself accepted that there was probably no malicious intention. In those circumstances, I determine that the player did not intend to squeeze Strauss’s testicles, nor were his actions reckless. In the dynamic situation of a ruck, he attempted to grab hold of his shorts and accidentally grabbed his testicles.”

There might well have been a third Samoan citing after scrumhalf Jeremy Su’a appeared to rake Springbok flank Francois Louw in the face at a ruck. While Louw left the field to be patched up, Su’a escaped unpunished.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was on the button with his selections and tactical approach for what was always going to be the most bruising of contests.

He praised the side’s physicality and discipline, and De Villiers for his awesome leadership.

“I think we are really building on something special,” he said.

“I’ve said to the guys, I don’t care about the score — the scoreboard is for the fans. You need to win the battle in front of you and the score will take care of itself.”

De Villiers said the old and young in the team had been determined to “make the country proud”.

“You couldn’t tell who the 20-year-old was and who the 32-year-old was.

“It was a good performance by every single guy. If you are good enough, you are old enough … and young enough.”

Samoan coach Stephen Betham said he was disappointed with the result. “We will try and take away some positives. We were frustrated. We didn’t stick to our plans and patterns, and this is a big learning curve for us going forward.

“The off-ball incidents came down to frustration and that was something we worked hard on to eliminate. We were intimidated and we faulted.”

Captain Paul Williams said his team had paid for their lack of discipline.

“It was a humbling experience against a great Springbok team and one we respect.”


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