The Schalk Burger eye gouging incident

Schalk Burger has received an 8-week ban for this horrific offence in the first minute of the Second Test on Saturday.

Here is the replay of the incident. Make up your own mind – a red card offence? Surely anything that warrants a ban has to be a red card offence if it is spotted by officials.

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30 comments on “The Schalk Burger eye gouging incident

  1. Boris Johnson June 29, 2009 at 9:29 pm -

    Of course it should have been a red card. He’s lucky to get away with only 8 week ban as well. The minimum is 12 weeks.

  2. What I find possibly even more distressing is De Villers’ defence of Burger. That is absolutely reprehensible, and the respect I had for him has gone straight out of the window.

  3. Yep dobbin, that’s because he’s a prize idiot (see below from BBC):

    Burger was banned for eight weeks after the incident in the second Test but De Villiers had continued to insist the flanker did nothing wrong in Pretoria.

    However, later on Monday the coach said: “It was never my intention to suggest that I condone foul play.

    “That is the last thing I would ever do and I apologise for that impression.”

    De Villers went on to say that “eye-gouging is something that we as a team will never be part of”.

  4. we as a team will never be apart of but DO.. How does that work. He is the dirtiest rugby player in the world and should be banned for life. He could blind someone for life. Surely something like that even goes into criminal proceeedings

  5. Well I do not think that it is clear cut to warrant intention. A penalty of course should be given, but the video I do not think is that conclusive to warrant the amount of attention that has been given. I agree that the coach needed to be a bit more harsh, but it is also the job of the coach to stand behind his men. I think all of the strong feelings are more due to the fact that we lost, the game and more importantly the series. We played well, but not well enough. I think we need to also be self critical. Although we were in the lead for most of the game, we were outscored in the try by 3-1 and RSA had a terrible kicking day. We still continue to have a tough time against the Southern Hemisphere. On the day any drama can happen, and it is part and parcel of the game. Sometimes in our favour and sometimes not. We also need to learn to be more objective, and accept defeat graciously. We need to learn from the game, and try to prepare strategies that help defeat the big Southern sides, or otherwise we will be complaining for many years to come.

  6. de villiers is an utter clown, how anyone in rugby circles – his players, SA officials and fans, opponents, IRB etc etc could have an ounce of respect for the man is impossible to fathom. does he think he’s untouchable because the race issue will rear its head if he was to be shown the door? i hope the travelling lions’ media give him a thorugh working over during the last 5-6 days of the tour

  7. Derek,
    I agree with you about the circumspection that we ought to show and accept the defeat. When we were leading 13-5 I always felt that the Boks were going to come back, and we were indeed beaten three tries to one. Ultimately, in both matches they scored the points when they were needed – 1st Test, gained a good lead and held out; 2nd Test gave away a good lead and clawed it back.

    I disagree totally however with the idea that the strong feelings were due to the defeat, as I was angry about the incident from about 32 seconds into the first half. As a ref. I said then that it was a red, not a yellow, and intent does not come in to it. If intent had been adjudged, he should have had 8 years or even life, not 8 weeks.

    As to PDV, I am annoyed at his statement that he didn’t even think it was a yellow, and his crass ballet analogy. His apology also seems to be something he has been told to say, not that he wanted to say.

  8. What’s got my goat is that on the several message boards I have been on since the match, our beloved Saffa cousins seem unable to differentiate between disgust at Burger’s actions and blaming the lack of a red card for the defeat. The facts are, Burger should have been sent off. If he had been, the Lions would in all likelilhood have won. Fact.

    However there were many other reasons that the Lions did not win. It was a great effort from South Africa to come back from the position they were in, just as it was an incredibly courageous effort from the Lions to hang in there as they did. So congrats to South Africa.

    But don’t lose sight of the fact that Burger should have got a severe punishment. It was clear cut. Lots of Saffas have mentioned that the Lions were guilty of some rough stuff as well, citing BOD’s shoulder charge on Roussouw. Well there’s foul play and there’s foul play. Do not equate a shoulder charge with an eye gouge. Ridiculous.

    Just as the officials should be censured for their lack of spine, PDV’s comments were an absolute disgrace, and don’t give me any nonsense about standing by your players, there are some things which cannot be defended. Sir Alex Ferguson is known for being one-eyed but he didn’t try to defend Eric Cantona after his kung-fu kick. He said ‘that’s part of sport’. Well if that’s part of your rugby chaps then you can keep it.

  9. Derek, this thread is about the gouging incident. The fact that the boks were worthy winners is irrelevant, and not in dispute anywhere above. You seem to be asserting that people criticizing the gouging are bad losers. I haven’t got that sense from anything I read on this blog.

    Really surprised to think you see no intent in the gouging. It is pretty clear cut to me. He knew exactly what he was doing.

  10. Dobbin,

    I think it always was going to be a physical match, and in those circumstances sometimes passion can get the better of ones professional side, and the injury list is a testament to this. I think though, that if you look at Burger’s record he has never really being a malicious player, and I guess that also gets taken into account. But of course if there is a breach of conduct, the player should be penalised. Whether they were harsh enough or not, well that ultimately lies with them. But usually they do not give such a long ban for a first time offender.

    I agree, I think that PDV had been backing the guys to much, and this lowers the outlook against SAR. They should be seen as been able to jusdge right from wrong, which is why the SA union interevened.

    Anyway, the focus is on the next test, which will pose difficult with so many injured, and another 500 meters in altitude.

  11. I know that this is all about SB and to be honest as a Bok supporter i am glad he is banned. Players like that should not be allowed on the pitch and i believe that most South Africans would agree with me. But i would like to know what your thoughts are on Sheradin’s blow to the nuts of Andries Bekker. Just how does it compare to SB’s incident. Is this something that the BIL supporters accept? Or the high tackles from BOD? In the spirit of the game?

    Then a warning to the BIL fans, fasten your seatbelts Saturday is going to be a hell of a game.

  12. David Rowlands June 30, 2009 at 1:26 pm -

    I was absolutely disgusted with this incident. Actually seeing a deliberate eye gouge happen totally marred the game for me and I have been disturbed ever since. I can’t believe there is even a word “gouging” in rugby. Is this sportsmanship or the lowest level of fouling? Burger should have been immediately sent off the pitch and should have been disowned by his fellow players, fellow countrymen and the international rugby community.
    Is it going to take a player to be blinded to make this disgusting offence a life ban.

  13. ‘But usually they do not give such a long ban for a first time offender.’

    Derek, that is complete, unadulterated bollocks, not least because as far as I’m aware nobody has ever been banned for eye-gouging twice, therefore they are always first time offenders.

    Anton, see my comment above (no 10). Shoulder charges and high tackles are illegal and get penalised, a little blow to the testicles probably likewise. But do not under any circumstances try to equate them to sticking fingers in people’s eyes. BOD’s tackle was illegal, he was lucky to get away with it but people get away with that stuff all the time. Never before Saturday has an eye gouge not been met with a red card or a ban or considerably longer than 8 weeks. These are facts.

  14. Stuart under no curcumstance am I saying that SB gouging equates to those ofends. And once again I am glad he is banned, he shouldn’t even have played he is notorius for foul play, he is no “First time offender” and this mean Brussow gets the start he deserves. But Bakkies being banned for doing exactly what any guy cleaing around a loose scrum would do is silly and it is a pitty shoulders was dislocated. Does a bok player need to get a serious injury before a BIL’s player gets sighted?

  15. I am a Bok supporter and here are the facts as I see them;

    Foul play is unacceptable and SB got off lightly. The ref was unsighted and made a judgement call based on the recommendations of the touch judge. Those of us sitting in our armchairs at home had the advantage of watching the replays over and over again. Unfortunately, foul play will always take place on the field and the majority of it goes unnoticed. Just ask any rugby player. Bakkies on the other hand, is not called the ‘Enforcer’ for nothing. It is his job to soften up the opposition

    PDV is an idiot! It is an embarassment whenever he opens his mouth. Far better SARU coaches have got the bullet in the past for less. He will continue to get away with it in future.

    The first test was almost lost by the Boks because PDV brought on the subs far too early. He, the idiot he is, felt comfortable with the lead the Boks had and decided to let the subs get a feel for the occassion. Almost a costly mistake. All credit to the Lions for seizing the oppertunity.

    The second test was closer than it should have been. 3 tries to 1 and numerous missed kicks made it look like a close encounter. Not so!

    Finally, we have a gem by the name of Brussouw. As Bob Skinstad said, “Here is a man that can steal a rugby ball through a key-hole”.
    Thanks for a great tour and an army of well behaved fans.

  16. Burgers offence was a hideous act of violence – plain and simple, and how he was only given a yellow card and an 8 week ban is disgusting! If everyone remembers back to before the tour, Quinlan got worse for the same offence. By only giving Burger this extremely low sentence, it allows this kind of violence to remain in our game. Only until players that commit such acts of violence are banned for life (which will probably only happen if someone actually loses their sight) will our beloved game be safe of such animals.

    As for the other acts foul play. BOD should have been given a yellow card for his attempted tackle/shoulder charge, as it was dangerous. To me, it looked like he was trying to get his arms around, but was so out of position in regards to making the tackle that he ended up charging into him instead – but in the rules of rugby “trying to” does not excuse the fact that it is dangerous. However was he citied? If it was deemed to be dangerous, surely he would have been citied by SA and the case reviewed by a disiplinary hearing? Sherdian’s little knock to Bekkers testicles. I didn’t actually see this so cannot comment. But same again.

    I have been talking to a lot of friends and rugby fans of all nations and we are in agreement – the standard of world refereeing is disgraceful nowadays. I am unsure how to go about it, but i’m quite serious about trying to start some kind of a petition to present to the IRB in regards to sorting out this issue – this relates to: consistency about the laws and rules, as each ref seems to have a different “interpretation” of them, obvious bias ref’s (for example; JK), use of touch judges and TMO’s. Would anyone be interested in signing it? Does anyone know how to start this off?

    Now for those of you who are thinking “this is just some stupid Englishman, who is pissed off at losing”, think again. For starters, if you look through this blog, you will find several comments congratulating the SA’s on their win. This however is about rugby in general. Amongst the people i have spoken to and are in agreement are SA’s, NZ’s, Aussies, French, Scots, Welsh, English and Irish

  17. Abosute discrace, its just not cricket old chap.
    The problem now will probably now continue to further matches vs South Africa, i.e. revenge, including both players & fans.
    i.e. oh, look there’s a SA in the pub, lets gouge his eyes.

    Well done Shalk, hope next time you receive the biggest ball grab of all time from a worthy opponent.

    Personally, congrats to SA on winning though, shame it takes only one guy to spoil the sport.

  18. Unless I’m mistaken, this was the ref’s first test match? I reckon it would have been a pretty big call for him to show Burger a red card all of 32 seconds into the match. He sure would have made a name for himself though!

  19. It doesn’t matter if its his first test match or his 100th. The laws and rules are there to be followed and he did not do that. I am intrigued though as to why a ref without suitable expeience was picked for such a big occassion?

    Stuart – you obviously know something i don’t? lol

    Cubix. There is no way supporters will start taking it out on each other – this isn’t football. However, if they do, i will stop having any involvement in rugby (supporting, playing etc etc). I have not watched or play football for about 10 years because i hate the way the game is played and supported. I just hope our beloved game isn’t going to go the same way

  20. Jeffrey Smith July 1, 2009 at 8:08 am -

    I,ve watched Rugby union for most of my life and no one can deny that its a hard physical contact sport.Ive seen many SA plyers come into the english game and they are by far the most aggresive,brutal and unspotsman like of any other nationality.I,ve also worked with many and they do appear to have a serios attitude problem.Until we have serios penalties for this type of behaviour and bans of months rather than weeks we will never rid the sport of this unwanted and dangerous practice.a northampton Saints player was given a 16 week ban at the start of last season,this should be a minimum ban throughout the rugby playing world.one final comment,the SA coach should be removed from his post immediately,even though he retracted his comments it gave everyone an insight into his thinking.

  21. Uncle Mat you are an idiot in any case. Look carefully at the time the incident happened, they were both falling and SB’s face was turned away from him. The fact is that in any case there are some extenuating circumstances. It was definitely not clear cut and you POMS should really start to wake up and smell the coffee.

    Do you know Schalk, uncle Mat and all you other pricks on this site? Do you know what type of person he is? Schalk is good person. Condemn the action not the guy. Schalk has a good track record and it was definitely not intentional. Should he have gotten a red card? Most probably, but even the refs didn’t know if it was intentional.

    I can’t believe the type of drivel that goes on on this sight. Unfortunately I don’t have all week to respond to all this crap. Like Jeffrey Smith…do you know that it was proven that the most arrogant of all nations are the POMS? You are even worse than the Americans. The only thing that is killing rugby for me is uninformed, idiotic, self-centerd freakin’ idiots that don’t know what they are talking about. You guys are worse than PdV. Bunch of hooligans.

  22. Very interesting point of view Ryno. Hope you don’t mind or think of me as a “whinging pom”, but I would like to discuss your comments.

    Firstly, you do know that your stereotyping all “poms”, the way that most “poms” have stereotyped Burger – does that not make you just as bad?

    Secondly. Whether Burger had intent or not, it was eye gouging and it was dangerous. Do you have to facing someone in order to know what it is you are doing? You asked to condemn the action, not the person. Well the action (as you said yourself) should have been a red card and he also got off very lightly with an 8 week ban.

    Thirdly, out of all the “uniformed, idiotic, self centered freakin idiots” that don’t know what they are talking about and are using this site, you are the only one using aggressive and abusive language towards individuals and other nations. Surely that makes you as bad if not worse than us hooligans?

    Rugby (unlike football) has always appealed to the masses because no matter which team you support and no matter what the score, everyone comes together, has a good time and discusses the issues without any malice. Why does that have to be different now?

  23. Ryno, I can see you don’t understand rugby very well, and that you have difficulty understanding some of the points made on this site. Rather than moaning about that here though, can I suggest you fuck off and waste someone else’s time instead?

  24. I’m a Canadian and in my opinion, the idiot Canadian official who came up with the eight week ban should check to see if he still has a pair. WTF? No red card and an eight week ban. That’s it. Clearly, there is a double standard being applied to the xxxing Springboks.

  25. Jeffrey Smith July 4, 2009 at 7:01 am -

    I think my observation regarding South Africans is shown to be completely acurate.Sounds like Rino needs to get back in the animal world where he plainly belongs.

  26. Pingback: Eye-gouging: Why have regulations if they aren’t enforced? | The Rugby Blog

  27. Aaah Ryno, so sweet. You really are a bit of a simpleton aren’t you. This is a clear cut incident and I’m sure any neutral viewers would have no doubt about it. Asking whether we ‘know’ Shalk Burger is ridiculous – as a rugby player he is defined by his actions on the field of play. (There are plenty of murderers I don’t know but I think it is safe to assume that perhaps they are not nice by virtue of their actions! I don’t need to know them to know this).

    Ultimately, there is no room for this sort of behaviour in rugby. And whining about how poms whine – is that really the best you’ve got? Seriously?

    Incidentally, you do realise that few of the Lions are actually poms? As for the intent of Burger, he hunts around for the eye socket with his fingers – he really should have been banned for at least a year.

    What’s a crying shame, as a neutral, I think the Lions were a better side, and should have taken the series. SA are very very good but over rated (just beaten by 2 English club sides in 2 weeks!)

    P.s Ryno, please don’t reply. It won’t be read.