Crusaders bemused by Bulls' eye-gouging claims
A small storm erupted over two eye-gouging allegations against the Crusaders in their 32-30 defeat to the Bulls in a Super Rugby match in Pretoria on Saturday.
Referee Jaco Peyper issued a white card and put the two alleged incidents on a report for a citing commissioner to review after Bulls forwards Chiliboy Ralepelle and Flip van der Merwe laid complaints.
While there will be further investigations, Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said he expected an apology if the accusations proved to be incorrect.
“I am personally really bemused by it, an allegation is an allegation,” said Blackadder.
“If the allegation has been made and if it is incorrect, I would be expecting an apology.”
“Otherwise everyone can make an allegation, I think there is a process in place and if something like that did happened I would be very disappointed but I know our players aren’t like that.
“I know our players well, our guys are players of character there is just no way.
“I will be really interested in the outcome.”
The Bulls said they would let the judicial commissioner rule on whether there was eye-gouging or not.
The side’s coach Frans Ludeke said the incident could prove to be nothing but felt that the referral system was important in eradicating foul play of such a nature.
“There is no place for foul play in the game,” said Ludeke.
“Silly incidents like that, if they happen we never focus on them, there will be a review.
“Maybe it is nothing but you want to get any dirty play out of the game and players that do it repeatedly.”
Bulls skipper Pierre Spies also did not want to be drawn to the issue and believed it would be dealt with by the match officials.
“Those incidents just happen and it is in the hands of the referees and the judicial officers,” he said.
“It doesn’t really impact our game, you know we want to stay focused and be disciplined.
“I guess sometimes it happens, it is part of the game, but it is probably just in the moment so we will just have to see how serious it is.”
Eye-gouging is one of the serious offences in rugby with a 12-week entry point suspension under Sanzar rules.
Rebels lock Adam Byrne was recently suspended for 10 weeks for the offence on Waratahs player Daniel Halangahu, but the decision was later overturned.
Springbok flanker Schalk Burger received an eight-week ban for the same incident on Luke Fitzgerald during the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour match at Loftus Versfeld.
Meanwhile, Spies felt sustained pressure from the Crusaders and the Bulls’ inaccurate lineouts were to blame for their 13-9 half-time deficit.
“And obviously at the breakdown, they put us under pressure on there to get some points,” Spies said.
“Again, in the second half we managed to do that and we got some good rewards.”