Sanzar display double standards by not taking action against Burger, Coetzee

2010-06-03 00:00

STORMERS captain Schalk Burger and his coach Allister Coetzee have somehow escaped disciplinary action after they both accused referee Craig Joubert of bias following the Bulls’ Super 14 final victory in Soweto on Saturday night.

Sanzar officials have again left themselves wide open to accusations of hypocrisy and double standards after they declined to take action against the Stormers pair. Earlier this year, Wallaby and Brumbies flyhalf Matt Giteau was fined and forced to apologise after far less damning remarks than those made by Burger at the Orlando Stadium.

Burger, supported by his coach Coetzee, alleged bias in the handling of the final and said that Joubert had used two different sets of breakdown “rules”, one for the Bulls and one for the Stormers. He later told the media that Joubert had penalised his team while coaching the Bulls and that he would not have spoken up if he did not believe “something was wrong.”

South African Rugby Union (Saru) refereeing boss Andre Watson said it was “sad” that a captain could stand up “and basically call the referee a cheat”.

While Burger made his comments to millions of viewers in a television interview, Giteau had been asked by a lone Australian newspaper journalist if he hoped Walsh would not be appointed to handle a weekend game and replied, “I think everyone is. Mate, I don’t know if we’ll turn up [for the game] — what’s the point?”

Sanzar immediately charged Giteau under their code of conduct regulations and the Wallaby was fined about R40 000 and wrote a letter of apology to referee Steve Walsh .

What is curious is that Watson, on behalf of Saru, produced detailed statistics that disproved Burger’s allegations, and many thought this would add to the case against him.

Burger’s outburst was brought before a regional Sanzar meeting in Johannesburg on Tuesday night and it was decided not to refer the matter to tournament director Simon Jelowitz.

“The matter will not be referred to Sanzar,” a Saru spokesperson said yesterday.

Joubert, contacted by The Witness yesterday, would not comment on the Sanzar decision.

“I have heard nothing official from Sanzar,” Joubert said.

And has, by any chance, Schalk Burger made any contact?

“No, I’ve heard nothing from him.”

But Sanzar officials have made a statement. They have set a precedent and referees are no longer provided with protection. Bitter and bruised captains can now stand up with impunity and tell the rugby world that the referee cheated, or was biased, or blew two different sets of laws (rules). No longer does John Smit have to bite his tongue.

Or, perhaps, there are two sets of rules — one protecting some of the players and the other punishing the rest.


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