Brian O’Driscoll says Peter de Villiers’s stance on Schalk Burger’s eye gouging offence is ‘appalling’ and ‘a disgrace’.
The Bok coach initially denied Burger had done anything wrong in the second Test against the Lions, before apologising in a Saru press release that was sent out after the tourists threatened to make an official complaint to the IRB.
‘To hear [De Villiers] talk about gouging being part of the game was semi-repulsive, O’Driscoll told journalists. ‘I just find it appalling. I truly find it a disgrace.
‘When I heard those comments I wondered how someone can get away with something like that. Irrespective of any apology I find it an absolute disgrace that a coach of a national team can make comments as he did about gouging being part of the game.’
While Burger was found guilty and banned for eight weeks, O’Driscoll believes the game’s reputation has been damaged.
‘Parents watching an interview like that, questioning whether they should have their kid play rugby or soccer, that’s their decision made right there. To hear a national coach saying in any shape or form gouging is acceptable is despicable. I find that mind-boggling. Essentially it brought the game into disrepute.’
O’Driscoll, who has been ruled out of the third Test after being concussed at Loftus, said the pain of losing a Lions series for the third time in less than a decade will not ease quickly.
‘What I hate is that it is the last chapter that will prey on my holidays a little bit,’ he admitted. ‘It’s the taste that’s left in the mouth. In another year, I’d have been on a complete high throughout the whole summer. Now, I’m left with the feeling that I’ve been involved in three Lions tours and lost all of them, although this has been an incredibly enjoyable trip – way more enjoyable than the other two.’