Springbok fury at 'dirty players' tag

Click to follow

Claims by Australian coach Eddie Jones that South African players bit or spat at Wallabies during Saturday's rugby union test in Brisbane may be challenged legally by South African authorities.

Springbok manager Gideon Sam warned as his team landed in the South Island city of Dunedin on Monday - welcomed by an honor guard of bagpipers - that he would report to his union on Jones' allegations and ask them to consider formal action.

Almost drowning out the bagpies was the continuing chorus of condemnation from Australian team members of South Africa's tactics in their 29-9 Tri-Nations defeat.

South Africa arrived in Dunedin to prepare for a Saturday match against New Zealand without lock Bakkies Botha, who was banned for eight weeks for eye gouging, and prop Robbie Kempson, who earned a four-week ban for a high, late tackle.

Both will miss only one match - the one at Dunedin on Saturday.

Sam immediately and strenuously defended his players from allegations of foul play made by Jones and Wallaby captain George Gregan. He said relations between South Africa and Australia had been strained by their comments.

"I feel very strongly and we will definitely be taking the matter up with our federation at home," Sam said.

Springbok captain Corne Krige - cut, bruised and still visibly angry that he had been accused of spitting on Australian players - said he would personally consider legal action against Jones.

"If any of the Australian players can look me in the eye and say I spat on them I would like to speak to them," he said. "If anything like that happened it was an accident."

Krige said he was glad to be in New Zealand - "a rugby country" - which understood rugby's physical side.

"The people here really love their rugby," he said. "New Zealand plays a physical game but we have never had problems after the game."

Sam said the matter would probably best be handled officially by the South African union to which he would report on the team's return next week.

"They were very strong words and we are taking it up with the South African union, yes," he told New Zealand Press Association.

"Our responsibility is to go back home and report the incident.

"We just need to get to some kind of understanding as to what happens when you are on a tour. If we take that kind of attitude, it sours relations in rugby. It doesn't promote the game."

Sam said the comments of Jones and Gregan were ill-chosen.

"Freedom of speech must be respected and a person can say whatever they like," he said.

"But you must be careful in your choice of words when you are talking about another team. George Gregan and Eddie Jones are entitled to their utterings, but maybe they just need to be a bit more careful."

Springbok coach Rudolf Straeuli also expressed disappointment at the backlash from Saturday's match.

"There were remarks after the match that we obviously weren't happy with," he said. "There was also some verbal abuse on the field and it looks like it starts with the coaching staff."

Straeuli did not expect Saturday's test match against the All Blacks to be acrimonious.

"The Springboks and the All Blacks respect each other," he said.

"I know (All Black coach) John Mitchell won't say such things about my team and I won't say them about his."

Meanwhile, South Africa called veteran prop Christo Bezuidenhout into its squad for Saturday's match as Kempson's replacement.

Bezuidenhout, 33, will become one of the oldest players to make his international debut for South Africa if he takes the field Saturday in a match in which the All Blacks could clinch the Tri-Nations title.

A replacement for Botha was not needed - South Africa has three fit locks.