The Herald reports that South African Rugby Union chief Oregon Hoskins is trying to distance SARU from the comments of Springbok coach Peter de Villiers. de Villiers has come out swinging after Springbok flanker Schalk Burger was suspended for eight weeks for eye-gouging during the 2nd test match against the Lions on Saturday. The Herald story quotes de Villiers thus:
"I don't believe it was a card at all," said De Villiers at the time. "In the first minute already there had been a lot of needle and if you watch the whole game you will see how many yellow cards they were let off.
"This is sport, this is what it's about. If things were clear-cut then we shouldn't even bother preparing for a game. Everyone is entitled to their opinion."
de Villiers is wrong. It was an act of thuggery by Burger, deserving of both a red card and a far lengthier suspension than the eight weeks he received. But don't take our word for it - watch it for yourself. The incident is replayed towards the end of the clip:
We reckon that Burger was saved from a red card only because of possible communication difficulties between Kiwi assistant referee Bryce Lawrence and the French referee Christophe Berdos. The referee asks Lawrence "Yellow card?", to which Lawrence clearly replies "I think it's AT LEAST a yellow card". That, to us, would be a prompt that the referee should be seriously considering the ultimate sanction - a red card - even though the match was only seconds old. At the very least, we would have expected Berdos to quiz Lawrence further.
But that's not the point of this post. By his words, de Villiers clearly condones Burger's act of thuggery, and gives the finger to the IRB and its disciplinary process. Now ordinarily, we wouldn't bag someone for bagging the IRB, but de Villiers has gone too far. Combine this with his bizarre race-based comment last week, and it is not unreasonable to suggest that SARU may already be looking for a new coach.