Botha ruling angers Smit

John Smit hopes the recent ban to Bakkies Botha hasn’t set a precedent that will rob rugby of its essence.

Botha was cited for an illegal clearing of Lions prop Adam Jones in last Saturday’s Test at Loftus Versfeld. Jones was badly injured and Botha was handed a two-week suspension, a sentence the Bok management appealed.

The appeal proved unsuccessful and the Bok skipper told on Friday that he and his team-mates are appalled with the decision.

‘We’re angry with the outcome to that appeal,’ Smit said. ‘I just hope and pray that Bakkies has been victimised and that this is not the way the game is going.

‘The players are happy to stand against a ruling like this and I’ve had calls from a few referees saying we must stand against it. We’ve been supported by the Lions’ management and players and also by players around the world. A ruling like this has the potential to set a precedent to ruin this great game of ours. It’s ludicrous.

‘We have to believe Bakkies has been victimised. Otherwise you could take 15 to 20 clips from every Test and ban guys for clearing from the ruck. It’s a scary scenario.

‘Bakkies has come from behind the gate and used his arms to clear Jones away. It’s unfortunate that Jones’s arm was stuck in the ruck and he got injured. A moment before Matthew Rees cleared Bakkies away in a similar fashion. We accept that is the nature of the game.’

Smit admitted this Test series has seen a revisit to a more traditional, physical battle. As a front-ranker, the Bok captain said it’s a series he will savour.

‘Both Tests have been very hard. Rugby union has no place for foul play, but it’s a game you want to run and tackle at a million miles an hour, but [with the latest ruling] maybe you can’t anymore. When you feel the worst on Sunday you know you’ve been in a good Test, and that has been the case in this series.

‘This series has seen the big boys having more of a role to play.There has been plenty of intensity and plenty of emotion and we expect to see more on Saturday. But that doesn’t mean there will be any bad blood.’

Smit said the Boks would treat this Test like any other, aiming to win, and capturing a 3-0 series whitewash in the process.

‘It’s always been our plan to take this series one game at a time and let the overall result take care of itself, so it’s the same with winning 3-0.

‘There is a massive amount to play for and I don’t think it will take much to motivate the guys. It’s a historic match against the Lions so the guys won’t waste the opportunity,’ he said.

By Jon Cardinelli, in Johannesburg