Lions condemn eye gouging

A number of the British & Irish Lions players were unhappy at the incident at the start of the second Test against the Springboks which earned Schalk Burger a yellow card. [more]

Lions condemn eye gouging

A number of the British & Irish Lions players were unhappy at the incident at the start of the second Test against the Springboks which earned Schalk Burger a yellow card.

The 50 cap flanker lasted less than a minute of the game before French referee Christophe Berdos issued him a yellow card for alleged eye gouging on Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald. Some of the players believed Berdos should have given Burger a red card, leaving the Springboks with only 14 men for 79 minutes. 

“I was surprised that someone of Burger’s quality would have done something like that. I felt the fingers around my eyes,” said Fitzgerald. 

“It seems to becoming a part of the game that we would rather not be there. You would hope that if a referee finds something like that he will deal with it severely. 

"I went into the ruck, got cleaned out and felt a hand going for my eyes. Given the seriousness of the allegations you would have to say it was probably a red card offence." 

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Scrum half Mike Phillips was also incensed by the eye gouging and many other off the ball incidents during a hugely physical 

“It was a clear red card -. tt was simple,” Phillips told South African reporters “They should have played with 14 men for 79 minutes, and that would have given us a massive advantage. 

“I couldn’t believe it. You can’t do things like that and it was a disgusting game really. 

“There were a number of punches thrown off the ball and other things that went on that were illegal. I understand that Test rugby is a tough environment, but you have to stay within the rules. 

“You work your socks off as a professional to win Test matches like these, and when things like what they did today go unpunished it just frustrates you.” 

Lions coach Ian McGeechan said he could never condone what Burger had done, even if the his Springbok counterpart Peter de Villiers seemed to think it was all part of the game. 

“I could never condone actions like that. I would hate to see those again and I think it should have automatically been a red card,” said McGeechan. 

”I heard a quote Peter de Villiers that it might be part of the game, but to me that is never part of the game. I am very disappointed he said that. 

“I can’t see that ever being part of the game. It certainly wouldn’t be part of a game I want to be associated with.”

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