South Africa 28 – Lions 25

Springboks choose cynical strategy

I was sure the Lions had it in the bag but no rugby team can operate effectively when it loses four key players to injury: both props and both centres. And how can you win against a team whose manager sees nothing wrong with trying to physically blind your players, as Schalk Burger attempted to do to Luke Fitzgerald? He should have been handed a red card for that incident, and the citing official thought so too, but the referee for some reason couldn’t. Burger has been suspended for eight weeks and will take no further part in the series.

Five Lions players went to hospital after Saturday’s game. Gethin Jenkins has a fractured cheekbone and Adam Jones has a dislocated shoulder. Jamie Roberts has a strained wrist and Tommy Bowe has a strained elbow, though these are the sort of injuries that can easily be picked up in a tough match, and they’ll probably be all right in time for the third Test. Brian O’Driscoll will have to take responsibility for his own concussion after putting in a huge tackle on Roussow.

I don’t blame O Gara for losing the game, but he is going to attract most of the criticism, and this incident could even mark the end of his days as Ireland’s number 10. It’s unfair. He got hammered within minutes of coming on the field, and looked utterly confused for the rest of the game, with a very nasty cut above his eye. He had no business being on the pitch in that condition, but I suppose the team was in such disarray following the loss of so many vital players, there was nothing for it but try to hold on until the final whistle even though everyone was playing out of position.

He was responsible for the Boks’ try and he made the wrong decision in kicking a Garryowen, but I don’t think he was in full control of his faculties. O Gara isn’t the bad guy here. That honour has to go to Peter de Villiers who decided from the outset that his players would deliberately try to injure their opponents even at the cost of ending people’s playing careers, or taking away their eyesight.

It was a great game for about 65 minutes, and an utter shambles for the Lions in the end, partly due to a strong rally by the Springboks and partly due to dirty play, punching and gouging, and targetting individual players with a view to injuring them.

That isn’t sport.

37 thoughts on “South Africa 28 – Lions 25

  1. Alan Quinlan must be gnashing his teeth with great frustration and furious anger.
    Eight weeks is a joke for what Burger did.

  2. psssssssst 28-25

    The SA coach reckons that the Burger is as innocent as the driven snow: “I have watched the television footage, and am still convinced that nothing he did was on purpose. He is an honourable man,” he told the BBC.

    So that’s all right then…….. Meantime, with attitudes like that will Lions teams travel to SA in future?

  3. I am of the opinion that the lions should come home now. Leaving the thugs of South Africa with their false victory. I would go even further the Lions should never go to visit these filth pots again. Rugby? This series has been criminal assault from start to finish . The Springboks have won because the refs. have been playing for them. South Africa should be barred from International Rugby for eternity.

  4. Don’t beat around the bush Gary, tell us how you really feel.

    Lets get a grip here. What Burger did was a disgrace and he should have gotten a straight red, but he didn’t. Then the citing commissioner chokes and gives him a paltry 8 weeks. But you Gary want to stop all future tours because of the actions of one thug and the words of an Uncle Tom. O’Driscolls tackle / assault in the second half was pretty wild, it resulted with him and his victim leaving the field, should SA refuse to play against either Ireland or O’Driscoll again because of it? I think not. Apart rom Burger there was no dirty play on view, it was a tip top test game.

  5. While I’d hardly see SA being banned (again) from international rugby. With 25,000 Irish and Brit fans out there, it would hardly be practical not showing up on Saturday (we can leave aside the legal eagle feeding frenzy such a scenario would create).

    That said, I would question why any future tours should go there if gouging, common assault and battery of the kind that would get you two years (even from our malign courts) are going to be your lot.

    The injuries sustained will bear heavily on the clubs who have contributed heavily to this Tour when the new season starts. Some of these guys will still be recuperating in December.

    South Africa cossetted their players from playing for their Provinces during this Tour, keeping them free of injury risk while the Lions players were being throttled physically in these same matches. Surely IF this Lions “concept” is to continue then leave it as a three-test tour with two selected games against provincial sides using the “B” players as SA have demonstrated and no doubt the NZ and Australians would follow suit. Times have changed and hanging on to tradition is no excuse to carry it on while the others regard this as an excuse to fleece supporters and engage in outright thuggery on the field.

    Otherwise, scrap the whole thing. All this has done so far is burn out some of our top players for next season.

  6. Some Lions players have reported a lot more gouging and punching during the game. Now, whatever about punching, it’s completely unacceptable to try and blind somebody.

  7. Five Lions brought to hospital after game.Lions doc said it was one of the most brutal games he had ever been involved with according to today’s IT- Gethin Jenkins (fractured cheekbone), Adam Jones (dislocated shoulder). Jamie Roberts (strained wrist), Tommy Bowe (strained elbow) and Brian O’Droscoll
    (concussion). O’Gara also had to have stitches into a deep cut near his left eye – t’was Lenny the Lion, the team mascot that no doubt did that. Punches flying off the ball all the time from Boks, t’was like the National Stadium. Why was Burger yellow carded? Isn’t gouging a straight red? Anyway, a lot of afters left over for next weekend. And if the ref doesn’t bring it under control then the Lions will have to match fire with fire, simple as that really.

  8. Physicality and gamesmanship have always been part and parcel of rugby at all levels. The famed Pontypool front row were not famed for their charity work. Ask any Dublin team travelling to Limerick for an AIL game in the ’90s if they enjoyed their day out, I won’t even answer that. This may shock some, but intimidation was a very useful weapon before and during the game. I am not condoning thuggary and I could have done without at least half the punches I got but lets get real. The Lions fielded 15 internationals against 15 SA internationals and lost. Of course there was skullduggery, do you think the Lions teams of ’74 and ’97 were choir boys. The ’74 side invented the “99”, if you don’t know what it was look it up.

  9. What you say is true, but there’s a line that shouldn’t be stepped over. Intimidating your opponent is one thing, but setting out to injure him badly is another matter, in my opinion.

  10. Bock you nor I understand the game at all. I used to play what I thought was Rugby as a lad . But my team and I did not realise we were supposed to Kill, blind or leave our opponents in wheelchairs . What a shower of sad wimps we were. If only we had No.8 as our mentor.

  11. Gary you’re getting a little worked up here. Please show where I said that “we were supposed to Kill, blind or leave our opponents in wheelchairs .” I condemned Burger for his cowardice and De Villiers for his comments. Although you fail to mention Sheridan punching a Spingbok in the testicles, maybe it doesn’t suit your persecution complex. If you would like to take part in an adult debate on the merits and demerits of the Lions then I will be interested but please don’t attribute posts that I didn’t write to me, just to reinforce your petty points.

  12. No.8 the 99 call was not Rugby. I am of the opinion that the aim of the game is to win. Not to cripple the opposition Just an opinion. I shall write no more on the subject..

  13. Well I’ll say a little more.

    In particular, I’ll mention the young lads with neck injuries, and especially those who have ended up paralysed, like Stuart Mangan.

    I don’t think that’s part of sport, and yet that was what we witnessed in South Africa, and also what we saw in New Zealand when Tuilagi and Umaga tried to cripple Brian O Driscoll.

    It’s bullshit.

  14. If we were Boks, which we technically are, and this was a SA site, would we be oblivious to the way our side won the two matches and would we be accusing the Lions of being big girls blouses?

    That said rugby is a tough enough game without thuggery. Part of the attraction of the game – unlike soccer, which FIFA seem determined to turn into a non contact sport for petulant multi millionaires – is the big hits, the tackles, the raw physical contact etc etc. However, punching, eye gouging and stamping are out. Such high felutin concepts may not have filtered down to the Southern Hemisphere yet, it’s just a rumour around those parts apparently, hence the SA coaches reaction, which is a more of a cultural reaction than anything else. I am not sure if rugby refs are assessed during matches, like soccer refs. But if not, then it is time they were marked on their performances and if they fall below a certain level then they should be demoted, like soccer refs. Ultimately, it is the ref that dictates what goes on in the game. The first ten minutes – “the softening up period” – are vital. If the punches start flying during that period or certain players are being signaled out for attention then the ref should call both captains aside and warn them that unless the boys in the trenches start containing their war of attrition within the rules of the game that their all going into the bin. If the above capers continue after that the whistle blower should start brandishing the cards. When teams start realising that indiscipline loses games they won’t be long copping themselves on.

    Meantime, thanks to technology we can all hear the ref – and the reasons for his various decisions – being broadcast all over the TV. I think this should be abolished. By all means the ref should be in contact with the linesmen. However, I believe that a lot of coaches are using these broadcasts to asses the refs attitude to certain situations.

  15. Abdul!..’Technically Boks’..please explain what you mean squire..its a bit ambiguous..

  16. Bock, I agree about the neck injuries. However I have never heard of a neck injury being caused by thuggery or heard of an investigation into a neck injury caused by thuggery. As distressing as they are, neck injuries are caused by accidents. The result of this is that all referees must be qualified to referee at their particular level, this is to prevent the ref being sued in th event of serious injury. Bryce Lawrence was the linesman who didn’t/wouldn’t make the call on Burger, he also penalised Vickery off the park in the 1st test. Vickery’s opposite no. “The Beast” was scrummaging illegally, yet Lawrence penalised Vickery because like most refs the frontrow remained a mystery to him. Yet it is the front row where most precautions have ben taken to stop this with specialist props etc. It’s a bit naive to put 30 people on a field, allow them to charge into each other, put in big physical tackles and physically scramble for the ball without the occasional fellow seeing red and swing a punch. I say swing because most players don’t know how to punch, hence it is referred to as “handbags”. I don’t see anyone looking to censure gaelic football, which to my mind it is far more thugish than rugby and sees frequent punchups involving entire squads and spectators, but hen again GAA is Irish.

  17. intimidation is key to winning any match,it happened,we lost,hopefully it will not happen again but chances are it will,ogara was out on his feet,he should not be persecuted,the comments by no 8 are spot on,it seems to be the opinion of most that the S Africans did something never done by an irish player before,which we know is not the case,munster are known as a physical intimidating side,do we open our mouths when its our lads dishing it out…no we dont,so why cant we accept it will happen our players on the lions panel…gouging,stamping,biting although ugly is a part of every teams arsenal,i was on the receiving end of it as a lad,and i gave as good as i got

  18. Daz, – me waxing lyrical as we’re on Bocks (Boks) site……..boering really.

  19. What a bunch of wankers you are, you sorry lot. None of you have even discussed the match, only the poor sod who lost his sanity 30 seconds in……….. Grow up you bunch of bad losers – It was one of the best games ever and the BILs gave just as much as they got. Really you are so predictable and I am not surprised. You have absolutely no change of winning against any of the big 3 and will look far and wide for excuses, as you will again next Saturday………..Love you too!

  20. Let me see if I understand you correctly. You seem to believe that gouging is a legitimate part of the game.

    Would that be correct?

  21. Gouching is pathetic and I’m afraid Burger will for a long time not be forgiven for this indiscretion, (ALSO by us as Bok supporters, as we don’t need any actions like that to win), what I AM saying is that it looks suspiciously like you guys are creating a two hour documentary on the match featuring a moment of madness. It is my opinion that this incident was to the benefit of the BILs in the test as it put them on the front foot and allowed them to score 10 unanswered points in that time. By that again I am not condoning anything.
    The coach, no there is a problem, should have kept his mouth shut.
    Nevertheless, did anyone see the rest of the game???
    Pity, you missed a good one.
    I was there and the atmosphere was awesome, so was the croud including 25,000 roaring Lion supporters, it will be something I will always remember.

  22. It was a great game for 80 minutes, I believe, if that is your point. Also to say that the coach was deliberately going out to injur the players deserves no response, but show again your twisted angle on things.

  23. Forgive me, but wasn’t it your coach who said he could see nothing wrong with the video of Burger gouging Fitzgerald?

  24. Stupid comments after the game, does not mean anything besides speaking nonsense, see it for what it was……
    To plan to deliberately injur is not the same, anyway nice chatting to you, all I am saying is that your article can do with a little objectivity and realism. Cheers for now.

  25. Brian O’Driscoll, who has retired from the Tour because of injury, described the SA coaches after match comments that gouging was part of the game – and his refusal to condemn Burger – as an absolute disgrace, adding that comments like that bring the game into disrepute and were despicable.

    He told today’s Irish Times: “When I heard those comments yesterday I wondered how someone can get away with something like that. Irrespective of any apology today I find it an absolute disgrace that a coach of a national side can make comments as he did about gouging being part of the game.

    “Someone made really good point to me that kids, or parents watching an interview like that, questioning whether they should have their kids play rugby or soccer, that’s the decision made right there.

    “To hear a national coach saying that in any shape or form, gouging is acceptable in the modern day game is despicable. I find it mind boggling, that you can have a national team coach saying something like that. Essentially it brought the game into disrepute.”

    Maybe De Villiers is a plant by FIFA to get more kids playing soccer?

  26. On a side note… the scapegoating of O’Gara in the press is looking a bit selective. Owen Slot of the Times wrote a whole article spearing ROG after the second test. His next rugby missive was an interesting contrast “Danny Cipriani needs a hand up – not kicking while he’s down”. Seems fair and balanced…..

  27. Congratulations to the Lions on winning out the series on an aggregate of 74 to 63 and a try count of seven to five.

  28. Question are South African Rugby officials capable of guilt? Or perhaps they put crap on the field to induce the Northern World back to a fight game in the future??

  29. Welcome to the parallel universe. Just in case you were wondering about the Boks armbands on Saturday.

    In a controversial move, South Africa’s players and coaches wore white armbands featuring the word “Justice” during the third Test as a protest against Botha’s two-week suspension.


  30. The armbands were a bit OTT but Botha should not have been cited or suspended. Even the Lions camp said he was badly treated. Then you have the case of Simon Shaw dropping his knees into the back of the SA scrumhalf. Yellow carded by the ref, and given a 2 week suspension by the citing body. The ostriches said it was an accident. Sheriden punched Bekker in the testicles last week and got away with it. No complaining fron the SA camp about his inclusion in Saturdays team. The only examples of thuggery on display came from the Lions, Sheridan, Shaw oh and O’Driscolls assault last week. Pot calling Kettle.

  31. The Boks have a cultural problem with some of the rules of the game, as their coach exemplified last week when he more or less said he had no problem with gouging.

    Years back FIFA outlawed the tackle from behind. Basically you can’t go through a player for the ball.

    However, some defenders suffered enormous emotional stress when this rule was introduced. Basically, the used spend their afternoons kicking the living fuck out of strikers.

    And then, at the behest of some big girls blouse in FIFA, they were told that they had to cease this activity.
    They had to play that strange looking orb called a ball, they were told.

    Likewise, with the Boks. They are also suffering emotionally and culturally because of some of the rules of the oval ball game. But I would be confident that with our help, in conjunction with the passage of time, that they can adjust.

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