Geech: There’s no bad blood

Despite recent controversies and alleged unsportsmanlike conduct Ian McGeechan maintains there’s no bad blood between the Springboks and the Lions.

Schalk Burger was banned for eight weeks for an eye gouge in the second Test while Bakkies Botha copped a two-week suspension for illegally clearing a player from a ruck. Both the Lions and Boks have complained about off-the-ball scuffles, and although the series is already decided, a lot of people are expecting a royal rumble this Saturday.

It has also surfaced that Bok utility back Jaque Fourie complained about being gouged prior to scoring that game-shifting try at Loftus Versfeld. McGeechan said this was the first he has heard of the incident, and didn’t believe it to be true.

‘We want to move on from what happened last week,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘We want to be positive and play the best rugby we can and win this Test.’

Botha was unlucky to receive his ban and McGeechan, in a diplomatic manner, said players need to be very careful not to be cited these days.

‘It just showed that a player has to be careful when entering from the ruck, he has to ensure his driving force is forward and not down. There is always a lot of contest and a lot of pressure in this area and coaches need to be clear on what’s expected from the players. I’m not a citing officer, so I can’t say whether he deserved it or not.’

A big stink has been made about McGeechan allegedly refusing to shake Peter de Villiers’s hand after the match. The Lions coach laughed at this accusation as he said this wasn’t the case.

‘I did say well done for winning the series and shook his hand twice. Maybe he had a lot to think about and didn’t remember afterward.

‘Both the Lions’ and the Springbok coaches have been meeting with the referee every week and it’s always been very amicable and open. We’ve had a good relationship with them,’ said McGeechan, who later added he has no link to any South African Super 14 teams despite reports.

Lions team manager Gerald Davies also denied the two camps were on bad terms.

‘We’ve had a wonderful arrangement with the Bok management and there is a great spirit,’ said Davies. ‘Once the whistle blows, we can be people again. There has been controversy and I believe what happened last Saturday [Burger's eye gouge] has no place in the game. But we need to move on.’

By Jon Cardinelli, in Johannesburg