reports from Pretoria
Pieter Hendriks, whose try inspired the Springboks in the opening World Cup game against Australia, was banned from the competition yesterday. However, the good news for South Africa is that Chester Williams, their only black international, returns to the squad after recovering from injury. Last night he flew from Cape Town to the Springboks' hotel in Johannesburg.
At a disciplinary hearing Ray Williams, the former secretary of the Welsh Rugby Union, banned Hendriks for 90 days for kicking and punching in a mass brawl against Canada in Port Elizabeth on Saturday night. Punching carries a minimum ban of 30 days, kicking 60 days. Hendriks got the double whammy.
After the flare up the Irish referee, David McHugh, sent off three players, Gareth Rees, the captain of Canada, Rod Snow, the Canadian prop, and James Dalton, the Springboks hooker. Rugby World Cup officials studied a film of the match, decided that the violent scenes had brought the game into disrepute and also decided that McHugh should have taken action against Hendriks and Scott Stewart, the Canadian full-back.
Hendriks and Stewart were both cited - this form of retrospective action is commonplace in New Zealand but is being used in the World Cup for the first time - and Stewart was banned for 60 days for striking an opponent with his forearm. This comes under "other forms of assault". As Canada are out of the World Cup they felt no appeals were necessary.
Rees, who was sent off when playing for Newport this season, Snow and Dalton were suspended for 30 days. Dalton, sent off for punching, has appealed against the sentence and a decision is expected today. It was the first time that three players had been sent off in a rugby union international. McHugh went one better than his countryman, Stephen Hilditch, who sent off two French props in the game against England in 1992.
Morne du Plessis, the South Africa manager, said Hendriks was a "bit shocked at the severity of the sentence" but there would be no appeal. "The video was difficult to argue against," Du Plessis said. "The replay clearly shows Hendriks's actions. There's no doubt about that. He's not happy. Team morale is not damaged. We have had a very tough weekend but we know that life and rugby have to go on. The World Cup is a bigger event than just our problems. We have to pick ourselves up and become the disciplined side we set out to be."
Regardless of what happens at Dalton's appeal, South Africa will still have 26 players and two hookers in their squad. They play Western Samoa at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, in the quarter-finals on Saturday. The rules allow for a player to be replaced if his union is prepared to pay the costs involved. If Dalton's appeal fails, Naka Drotske, a Springbok in Argentina in 1993, will join the squad.Reuse content