Reckless South Africans go down in disgrace


Rugby/Tri-Nations:   South Africa's rugby reputation was tarnished again at the weekend, Australian coach Eddie Jones calling the Springboks a "disgrace for international rugby" after allegations of biting, spitting and gouging in their Tri-Nations defeat at Lang Park, Brisbane, on Saturday.

Two Springbok forwards have been suspended for foul play and Jones was still livid yesterday.

"It's a deliberate tactic from the Springboks and it puts a whole slur on the game. They talked about it during the week before the game. Why else would you talk about it?

"We're absolutely filthy about what they did. We need to expose them. They really need to have a good look at themselves, because that sort of rubbish should not go on."

The replacement lock Bakkies Botha was suspended for eight weeks for "deliberately attacking the face" of the Wallaby hooker Brendan Cannon. And prop Robbie Kempson was suspended for four weeks for hitting the Australian number eight Toutai Kefu with a late and high tackle.

Play was stopped for several minutes as medical staff rushed on to the field and Kefu was taken off on a stretcher with his neck in a brace. Australia's most experienced forward spent the night in a Brisbane hospital, with "spinal concussion".

The rulings of yesterday's three-man SANZAR judiciary panel means Botha and Kempson will miss only one Test, against New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday, and be available for the start of the World Cup.

England, who made similar accusations of foul play against South Africa after their torrid 53-3 home win in November, meet the Springboks in a World Cup pool match in Perth.

The six-hour judiciary hearing followed an emotional post-match media conference in which a furious Jones made his accusations.

Jones was backed by an irate Australian captain George Gregan and Cannon. Cannon claimed he was bitten and eye-gouged.

"It is fantastic to play international football but you don't want to be involved in something like that. It is frightening when someone is gouging your eyes," Cannon said.

Gregan blamed his opposing captain, Corne Krige, stating: "They don't have a real positive attitude. They play the player and you have the leader of their team spitting at blokes.

"Look at the Tri-Nations series the last couple of years. Any time there has been an incident there has been one common denominator: them."

When confronted with the spitting allegation Krige admitted he had spat out a mouthful of blood, some of which accidentally landed on the Australian back row Phil Waugh. Krige said he immediately apologised.

All of this took the gloss off a reasonable Australian victory. While the Wallabies' forward effort was exemplary, in particular their scrummaging, the back-line play was still out of sorts. Australia struggled to score two tries - the first of which came from a hideous blunder by the Springbok outhalf Louis Koen, who threw a pass into no man's land that was picked up by Mat Rogers, who ran 40 metres to score. Waugh added the second late on, rounding off a move as Kefu, his provider, lay injured from Kempson's controversial hit.

Kefu is unlikely to play in the return Bledisloe Cup match in Auckland on August 16th.

AUSTRALIA: Latham; Sailor, Rogers (Burke, 80), Flatley, Tuqiri; Larkham, Gregan (capt; Whitaker, 80); Young, Cannon (Paul, 80), Noriega (Panoho, 68), Giffin, Vickerman (Sharpe, 67), G Smith (Finegan, 72), Waugh, T Kefu (Giteau, 80).

SOUTH AFRICA: Pretorius; Terblanche (Russell, 72), Muller, Barry, Willemse; Koen, Davidson (Van der Westhuizen, 54); Kempson, Coetzee, Bands, Boome (Botha, 54), Matfield, Krige (capt), Van Niekerk, J Smith.

Referee: P O'Brien (New Zealand).