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Monday, 29 June 2009

Lions 2nd Test Aftermatch

Bakkies Botha has been suspended for two weeks following a dangerous "charge" at Adam Jones, which resulted in the latter dislocating his collar bone.

Schalk Burger has been given an eight week ban for making contact with the eye area of Luke Fitzgerald.

For those, like myself who did not see the Botha "challenge" there is a clip here on youtube.
Personally I think the ban is harsh, Jones is bound to the ruck but not really expecting to be hit and thus not braced for the collision. Botha (who was guilty in several other incidents of foul play throughout the game) seems to be hitting the ruck to delay the ball coming out, or as seen often in the game today hoping to cause a knock on by the scrum half. The sheer size and power of Botha and Jone's relaxed state are more then likely what caused the injury to occur rather then any intent from Bakkies, but in the grand scheme of the entire game and his "carry on" I do not think he will appeal.

Burger on the other hand can count himself lucky. See the video here.
Now I am the furthest from a professional rugby player you will find, but viewing the above and reading the South African coaches comments that such an act is "part of the game" has left my baffled.
It is clear that Burger has taken the player out of the ruck and has his hands near his face and continues to leave them there for a few seconds. Both players are on the ground and out of the play, so why would there need to be continued contact from Burger, let alone near the face. Personally I think the formation of Burger's fingers, the index finger and "ring" finger bent show he is attempting to grab or penetrate the eye area of Luke Fitzgerald. Accidental contact would involve a scrape across the area or a sudden poke where one would expect Burger to quickly remove his fingers. Neither of these are what is happening here.
In my view gouging, which is extremely dangerous to the livelihood of professional sports players should carry a much greater minimum ban. If a player is found guilty of purposely sticking his fingers in someones eyes it should be closer to 6 months suspension.

Burger can count himself lucky he will miss just three games in the Tri-Nations. I would expect with all the media attention given to this incident, and also to Alan Quinlan's poke at Leo Cullen that the IRB may review the laws governing disciplining gouging, as clearly the current bans are not incentive enough for some players to stop.


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