30 Jun 2009

De Villiers defends Burger after eye gouge

6:00 am on 30 June 2009

The Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has defended flanker Schalk Burger after the player was banned for eye-gouging, saying it had been accidental and that rugby was bound to feature more knocks than ballet.

Burger was banned for eight weeks for gouging the eyes of British and Irish Lions winger Luke Fitzgerald in the first minute of the weekend's second test in Pretoria. South Africa lock Bakkies Botha was banned for two weeks for a dangerous tackle.

De Villiers says Burger, who is a former IRB world player of the year, is an honourable man and if you know his nature and character like he does, then you know he won't ever do something like that.

He says there were so many incidents in the test -- like jumping maliciously into the face of a player with the shoulder -- but if they're going to win rugby matches in the boardroom or in front of the cameras then they might as well close shop, go to the nearest ballet shop and buy some nice tutus.

The Springbok coach also criticised the Lions for not applauding his team on the series win and denied the world champions had been lucky to win the second test after trailing 18-9 after an hour.