The Springboks are the current World Champions. The No. 1 ranked IRB test nation. The cream of the crop, yet the most despised side in World rugby. The IRB, and the rest of the world doesn't like them. And they want to ban the Boks from the rugby world cup?
After the second test between the Springboks and the British and Irish Lions, Schalk Burger was rightly banned for 8 weeks for eye gouging Luke Fitzgerald.
Actually it was for reckless play, but he had his hands on a Lions players' eyes. The punishment was fair based on the precedent set so far by disciplinary tribunals in World rugby.
However in the same game Bakkie Botha was unfairly cited and banned for two weeks for a legitimate tackle on Adam Jones. The Springboks finally took a stand against the unjust treatment they've been receiving for years. How do you ban a guy who produced a legal tackle? For something that happens hundreds of times during a game.
The only factors that led to this citing and subsequent banning, were because Adam Jones became injured as a result, and because Bakkies Botha is South Africa and has a bad record.
Good on the Springboks, led by John Smit, who showed their solidarity for their teammate by wearing white armbands written with "Justice 4 Bakkies". That's what standing by your teammates is all about. Especially when you are right.
The IRB decided these actions bought the game into disrepute and the Springboks needed to be punished. So the South African rugby union (SARU) were dragged in front of another disciplinary committee.
Never mind the citing commissioner or unfair tribunal who punished Bakkies Botha. They get away scot free. Instead the South African Rugby Union, and John Smit were heavily fined for their behaviour. And the IRB committee were unanimous in wanting the Springboks banned from the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
That would have produced an uproar. Once again South Africa get picked on. Forget about right or wrong, any other country would never have to deal with this.
We may not have heard the end of this as the IRB looks at the legal technicalities. SARU may protest this one, but in all likelihood will take their punishment and keep quiet.
Shame on the IRB, and shame on the Rugby World for showing such prejudice on South Africa. Go the Springboks, all your supporters are behind you!
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