Suspended Butch admits to foul play

2013-07-08 00:00

FORMER Springbok and Sharks flyhalf Butch James was yesterday suspended for four weeks after he pleaded guilty to a dangerous tackle during Saturday night’s 20-19 Super Rugby loss to the Bulls.

James and Bull lock Wilhelm Steenkamp, who was charged with head-butting the Sharks flyhalf, were both cited for foul play after the game.

Steenkamp has not accepted the charge, and will appear before a judicial hearing today, but James yesterday pleaded guilty to making a high tackle on the Bulls’ Jurgen Visser and was suspended until August 4. He will miss the Sharks’ final Super Rugby game against the Kings on Saturday but will be available for the Currie Cup opener against Griquas on ­August 9.

Sanzar judicial officer Jannie Lubbe SC said that James’s acceptance of the sanction, his previous record and his playing commitments in the coming weeks had been taken into account.

Steenkamp was charged with head-butting James at a ruck. The lock escaped any punishment at the time with the selected replays of the incident not shown to the TMO but only screened after the game.

The attack on James set in train the events that led to the flyhalf’s expulsion minutes later and, arguably, decided the game.

James, clearly incensed that the head-butt had gone unpunished, appeared to react with the high tackle on Visser in the move that brought the Bulls’ winning try. James was sin-binned and both he and Pat Lambie were off the field when the Sharks’ third-choice goalkicker, fullback Riaan Viljoen, missed a relatively easy penalty on the final hooter.

James had captained the Sharks in place of the demoted Keegan Daniel and played at flyhalf with Lambie at inside centre.

The selection of Jean Deysel in place of the out-of-touch Daniel and the switch of James to flyhalf paid off handsomely. Daniel, on for Willem Alberts in the second half, finally found some of his old form but the influential Deysel and scrumhalf Charl McLeod were missed when replaced in the final quarter.

It was a remarkable contest and for long periods you had to wonder which team was chasing the massive prize of top spot on the Super Rugby log and which was playing for pride.

The Bulls won by a whisker ­because Morné Steyn kicked their goals and they had 15 players for 80 minutes; the Sharks lost ­because they missed six of their nine kicks and had only 14 players for 20 minutes.

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