Springboks Rugby: Schalk Burger and Bakkies Botha Suspended

Sanjay DevaCorrespondent IJune 29, 2009

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 27:  (L-R) Schalk Burger, Bakkies Botha and Andries Bekker of South Africa celebrate their series win after the Second Test match between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions at Loftus Versfeld on June 27, 2009 in Pretoria, South Africa.  (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Springboks Schalk Burger and Bakkies Botha were both suspended after the Springboks vs. the British and Irish Lions second test at Loftus Versfeld.

Schalk Burger was given an eight-week suspension for eye gouging Lions winger Luke Fitzgerald. After only 27 seconds of play, Schalk had his hand in Fitzgerald's eyes which was picked up by touch judge Bryce Lawrence.

Lawrence stated to the ref that it was "at least a yellow card." In other words, he was telling the ref to give a yellow card. 

Looking at the evidence, Schalk is guilty of eye gouging. He has never been a dirty player, but then he has never performed so badly in a season as he has now. In my view he looks a frustrated player, as evidenced by his arguing with referees.

He was playing his 50th test, and instead of going down as a Springbok legend, he has tarnished his image forever. Sure he has had plenty of yellow cards, but they have come about from over zealous and reckless play, not thuggery and malice.

I believe he should have been shown a red card, and struggle to understand why Bryce Lawrence didn't make the recommendation. I sympathise with Lions supporters, but I as a Springbok supporter I was happy he stayed on the field for 70 minutes, else we would have struggled!

An Italian player got eight weeks in New Zealand for a similar incident, so at least there is consistency, but I think Schalk can feel lucky it was only eight weeks. In the future, I believe eye gougers should get a a lot longer than that.

Bakkies Botha, meanwhile, was cited and given a two-week suspension for a dangerous tackle. At a ruck, he came charging in from an onside position and this dislocated the shoulder of prop Adam Jones. He didn't bind onto another player at the ruck, but then again, who does?

Bakkies is unfairly treated in my view. That was good cleaning out, and unfortunately a Lions player was too soft and got hurt. He should go back to his knitting classes, not complain about it. This is rugby.

The Lions management and British tabloids are screaming out about the Springbok dirty play. However, there were plenty of high tackles by Lions players in the second test, and after the first two Springbok tries, both players were tackled late.

JP Pietersen was dangerously pushed after he had dotted the ball down, and Bryan Habana was jumped on after he had placed the ball for his try too. Why weren't any Lions cited?

It seems to me that the Springboks and minnow sides are unfairly treated by citing commissioners and the judiciary.

Take this year's super 14 and Sione Lauaki and his coathanger tackle on Bryan Habana. Brett Sheehan and his shoulder charge.

Or the 2007 world cup when Schalk was suspended, and others weren't for similar offences. Where is the consistency?

Oh well, I shall take comfort with a series victory over the Lions for the next 12 years, that should be enough to keep me happy!