x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

IRB mete out Burger ban

The South African flanker has been found guilty of eye-gouging during the second Test against the British & Irish Lions.

JOHANNESBURG // The South Africa flanker Schalk Burger has been suspended for eight weeks after he was found guilty of eye gouging during the Springboks's series-clinching 28-25 win over the British & Irish Lions at Pretoria on the weekend. Burger was charged with making contact with the face in the eye area of the Lions winger Luke Fitzgerald only 32 seconds into his 50th appearance for the Springboks.

He was yellow carded at the time by referee Christophe Berdos of France. Lock Bakkies Botha was suspended for two weeks for charging dangerously into Lions prop Adam Jones, who left the field early in the second half with a suspected dislocated shoulder. South Africa Rugby announced the bans today after both players attended disciplinary hearings by the International Rugby Board (IRB) judicial officer Alan Hudson of Canada.

Burger will be allowed to return to rugby on Aug 23, ruling him out of Tri-Nations matches against New Zealand on July 25 and Aug 1 and Australia on Aug 8. South Africa's first match after Burger's ban expires is at Perth, Australia on Aug 29. Botha was found guilty of dangerously charging into a ruck without binding on a player in the fourth minute of the second half. He will not be allowed to play until July 12.

Television replays showed Burger's hand apparently making contact with Fitzgerald's eye in a ruck, confirming what touch judge Bryce Lawrence reported to Berdos and making it fortunate for South Africa that he was not shown a red card. Burger was the second international player to be banned for eye gouging in a matter of days. The Italy captain Sergio Parisse was suspended for eight weeks for eye gouging a 27-6 loss to New Zealand in Christchurch on Saturday.

Parisse, a 65-Test veteran who had never previously received a red or yellow card in a Test match, was found guilty of making contact with the eyes or eye area of the All Blacks lock Isaac Ross in the 58th minute. The IRB judicial officer Paul Tully found the Italian No 8 guilty after viewing video evidence and hearing reports from the match referee and linesmen, imposing a ban which will run from Aug 2 - when the Italian domestic season starts - until Sept 26.

*AP