South Africa 9
THE South African prop Johan le Roux has been ordered home in disgrace after being found guilty by the Springboks management of biting the ear of the New Zealand captain, Sean Fitzpatrick, in the second Test in Wellington on Saturday.
Fitzpatrick ended the match, a 13-9 victory which clinched the three-match Test series for the All Blacks, with blood dripping from his ear. 'With immediate effect and on the first available plane he (le Roux) will depart for South Africa,' the tourists' team manager, Jannie Engelbrecht, said.
The Springboks management had wanted to tell le Roux, nicknamed 'le Beast' in South Africa, of their unanimous decision before announcing it, he said, but all attempts to reach the player had failed. Le Roux was cited on Saturday night by the New Zealand Rugby Football Union disciplinary commissioner, David Howman, and was set to appear before a hearing today.
But it now appears that the South Africans will impose their own punishment, having pre-empted the NZRFU hearing. 'We have had no word from New Zealand and no direction from home. In fact we decided unanimously last night that we are going to send this player back home,' Engelbrecht said.
He added that Le Roux had given no explanation for his actions nor did he know if the player had apologised.
Fitzpatrick complained during Saturday's match to the Irish referee, Brian Stirling, about having his ear bitten. But neither Stirling nor the touch judges saw it and so took no action. However, television caught le Roux apparently biting Fitzpatrick.
Although Engelbrecht denied there had been any pressure from South Africa to take action, the president of the South African Rugby Football Union, Louis Luyt, was reported on Saturday as saying that if the player was guilty then he would have to return home. The Transvaal coach, Kitch Christie, was reported as saying that if le Roux was guilty of biting, then he would not play for the province again. It was a punch by the same player that put Martin Johnson out of the England tour of South Africa.
Engelbrecht said he could not tell if further action would be taken against le Roux, a 32-year-old metal broker playing in his third Test. 'It's not within our powers to give further punishment, that must take its own course. If the New Zealand rugby union want to cite then that will be the course that's taken,' he said.
'If there are any other steps to be taken back home by Sarfu then I think it's within their own right to decide, but it's not within our (the team management's) right to take further steps. The only step we can take is to send him home.'
The defeat meant that South Africa have already lost the series before the final Test, on August 6 in Auckland. The All Blacks won the first Test in Dunedin 22-14.
New Zealand: Tries J Timu, Z Brooke; Penalty S Howarth. South Africa: Penalties T van Rensburg 3.
SOUTH AFRICA: T Van Rensburg; J Small, J Mulder, C Williams, B Venter; H le Roux, J Roux; A Richter, F Pienaar (capt), S Atherton, M Andrews, T Strauss; J le Roux, J Allan, G Kebble. Replacement: A Joubert (for Van Rensburg).
NEW ZEALAND: S Howarth; J Kirwan, F Bunce, A Ieremia, J Timu; S Bachop, G Bachop; Z Brooke; M Brewer, M Cooksley, R Brooke, B Larsen; O Brown, S Fitzpatrick (capt), R Loe. Replacement: W Little (for Ieremia).
Referee: B Stirling (Ireland).