Schalk Burger’s rude gestures could land him in trouble

2008-02-25 00:00

The Springbok and Stormers flank could, and should, face disciplinary action after he ran through the whole gamut of hand and finger signals as he left the field after being yellow-carded during the bruising Super 14 clash won 12-10 by the Sharks at a steamy King’s Park on Saturday evening.

The incensed blond flank’s on-going gesticulations were aimed at touch judge Willie Roos, who moments before had fingered Burger for an off-the-ball incident eight minutes into the second half when the Stormers were ahead 10-0.

It was a critical call. New Zealand referee Kelvin Deaker, on Roos’s advice, sin-binned Burger, Sharks scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar kicked the resultant penalty and the momentum of the game changed, with the Stormers down to 14 men with their most influential player out of the game for 10 minutes.

Burger, walking towards the main grandstand, made his feelings towards Roos patently obvious and his most polite suggestion was that the touch judge should don a pair of glasses.

Of course, Roos is currently not the most popular referee with the Stormers. He was heavily criticised — both by the Stormers and leading South African referees — after handling the first-round game in Cape Town when the Bulls came away with a narrow win.

Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus, delightfully straight-faced and without a hint of sarcasm, said that he would have to accept the judgment “from one of South Africa's top referees”.

“We do not condone that sort of behaviour and we will talk about it.

“It is something we can sort out quickly, but you must remember that Schalk is totally committed to the team and I think it was just an emotional outburst. He and Willie [Roos] should sit down and talk about it.”

Sharks captain and lock Johann Muller, who was involved with the initial scuffle, said his sympathy lies with his Bok team-mate Burger.

“Brian Mujati [the Stormers prop] and I were involved in a little bit of a shuffle. Schalk joined in from the side and that’s what the touch judge saw.

“It was not serious, and there was no damage done, but unfortunately that is the law.

“I feel sorry for Schalk. He had been absolutely fantastic in the match, particularly in the first half when he won so much turnover ball,” said Muller.

Indications last night were that SA Rugby would investigate the incident.

And, as former Natal, WP and Bok flyhalf Joel Stransky said, there will come a time when Burger, a highly-resepected world class player, will look back over his career and be embarrassed about what happened at King’s Park on Saturday evening.

Erasmus said that poor disciplne cost the Stormers the game.

Shortly after Burger returned, replacement centre Dylan des Fountain was yellow-carded for repeated infringements at the ruck.

The Stormers played 20 minutes of the second half with only 14 men on the team as the Sharks kicked four peanlties to win 12-10.

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