Mallett's future to be decided at Sarfu 'charade'

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The Independent Online

South African rugby's accurate but profoundly depressing impersonation of the Salem Witch Hunt will reach its climax in a little under a fortnight when Nick Mallett, the put-upon Springbok coach, appears before a disciplinary committee in Cape Town on 21 September to answer unspecified charges of "misconduct".

South African rugby's accurate but profoundly depressing impersonation of the Salem Witch Hunt will reach its climax in a little under a fortnight when Nick Mallett, the put-upon Springbok coach, appears before a disciplinary committee in Cape Town on 21 September to answer unspecified charges of "misconduct".

The last time Mallett found himself in the public eye at the Newlands stadium, the Boks beat Australia in a tight Tri-Nations fixture. This time, he appears to be on a hiding to nothing.

The main accusations against the English-born Oxford Blue and all-round sportsman, concern comments made to a Durban newspaper criticising the South African Rugby Football Union's ticket pricing policy - hardly a hanging offence, given that Sarfu failed to sell out either summer Test against England and also attracted something less than a full house for the Tri-Nations encounter with New Zealand at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The affair has already cost the union the services of Alex Broun, who resigned his post as media manager earlier this week in disgust at the way views contained in a private e-mail had been held against him.

Many of Mallett's supporters in Bok circles - and he has some, despite his team's poor international season - believe Sarfu hard-liners are determined to see the back of him, and that the disciplinary inquiry is little more than a charade.

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