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O'Driscoll slams Springbok coach
Brian O'Driscoll slams comments by Springbok coach over eye gouging.
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2009 21:17 GMT

Schalk Burger, left, was disciplined for eye-gouging after the match [AFP]
British and Irish Lions centre Brian O'Driscoll and assistant coach Graham Rowntree expressed outrage over comments by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers on Schalk Burger's ban for eye gouging.

Burger was banned for eight weeks on Sunday for gouging the eyes of Lions winger Luke Fitzgerald in the first minute of the second Test in Pretoria the previous day.

The victory gave the Springboks the three-match series.

'Repulsive comments'

"To hear the South African coach Peter de Villiers talk about gouging as being part of the game was semi-repulsive," O'Driscoll told Irish state radio.

Rowntree also lashed out: "I can get quite emotional about this so I'd better tread carefully.

"What De Villiers said was completely out of order, it was crass and pathetic."

The South African Rugby Union had to issue a statement apologising for comments by de Villiers defending the flanker.

"We are trying to promote the game and yet you hear comments like that. I just find it appalling. I truly find it a disgrace," O'Driscoll said.

He was returning home on Wednesday with concussion and will miss the third Test.

"If it's not clamped down, you are going to lose people to the game of rugby and that's essentially the bigger picture."

De Villiers said afterwards, in defence of Burger, that rugby was bound to feature more knocks than ballet.

Rowntree added: "Gouging is indefensible and there is no place for it in the game. For a national coach to almost say it is okay is ridiculous. We're upset by it and he can't get away with it," Rowntree said.

Deterrent needed

The former Lions prop also called for heavier penalties for gouging.

"There've been a lot of high-profile cases in the last six months so there probably needs to be a greater deterrent put in place," he said.

Rowntree told a news conference in Johannesburg that the Lions had plenty of energy and resources left for the final Test on Saturday.

"The Springboks will be trying to whitewash us, they think we're on the ropes and emotionally down. Normally at this stage of a Lions tour injuries have taken their toll and the squad is held together by elastoplast.

"But I can assure them this team is in good nick and there is still plenty of gas in the tank."

Rowntree added that 33-year-old tighthead Phil Vickery, who was savaged by Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira in the first Test, is back in the frame for selection although he did not complete training on Wednesday due to a throat infection.

Source:
Agencies
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