De Villiers defends Burger

Controversial Springbok coach Peter de Villiers got himself into a row with the British & Irish Lions media over the eye gouging incident that led to Schalk Burger being banned for eight weeks. [more]

De Villiers defends Burger

Controversial Springbok coach Peter de Villiers got himself into a row with the British & Irish Lions media over the eye gouging incident that led to Schalk Burger being banned for eight weeks.

Rather than condemn the actions of his player, he defended his character and claimed he would have to wait until the full report of the IRB judicial officer had been filed before commenting on the circumstances.

Here is a transcript of some of his comments:

“I stand by Schalk and I’m still convinced he didn’t do it. When you watch the footage closely, and if you know the nature of Schalk, you’ll know that he will never go to those measures to impose himself. I think he is more physical than any other rugby player in the world. But he would never go to that kind of measure to show he is the boss on the rugby field.
“Schalk certainly didn’t do anything on purpose. I watched the television footage and I am still convinced there was nothing, he never went in on purpose. Schalk
watched the TV footage and was taken aback himself. We don’t want to accuse Schalk, we stand and abide by what’s happening.
“We are waiting for the report and if the report by any means comes out and says Schalk Burger is guilty of eye-gouging, then we just have to abide by that but I believe it won’t be the case.
“He is an honourable man. If you take him away from rugby he would be the best person to have around you."

"I am against anything that’s not in the spirit of the game, anything. We won’t go to the lows of being negative in the sense of positive games.
"We have brilliant players in this country and most of them are world-class. If we want to eye-gouge any Lions we go down the bush veldt, like we normally do, and eye-gouge them and see if they can run.
"But we will never, never encourage anybody to be negative or bring the game into disrepute.
"Eye gouging is like biting, punching, head butting, spear tackling – all those things don’t belong in the game. We want to promote this game among our youth, everybody to see how passionate we are about this game and we want to bring that passion about in our country.
"We want this game to be the biggest nation building tool that there ever can be and by encouraging things like that I think we are fighting a lost cause I will never, ever be a part of anything like that. 


"I don’t make the laws. I don’t write the books about sentences – I only abide by that. I don’t appoint judicial officers. I don’t always agree with them but, then again, I am part of the system and, if you can’t work in the system and you want your own system, create your own world.
"There are a lot of things I don’t like in life but, while I am part of this world, I will adjust."
"I’m not ducking the issue. It’s just I’m working a system. I’m not like you, where I don’t have a system. You can go anywhere you want to work. We are working in a system where we wait until the report has been tabled and then we will react."
An English reporter: You said after the game you didn’t think it was worth a card, do you regret saying that, do you accept it was worth a card?
"Let me tell you now, if you look at the footage properly and you know the man you are working with, then you can see why I say it."

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“What you must understand here very, very clearly, rugby is a contact sport and so is dancing. So, guys, if who can’t take it, make the decision. If you guys are really clued up in this game and can see what happened in that game, you’ll have seen there was so much incident that we can go on and say we want to cite this guy for maliciously jumping into a guy’s face with his shoulder and stuff like that.
"The reason we don’t do the stuff like this is this game will always be a game to us and, sometimes, you get away with things you don’t mean. Sometimes you make decisions that are right and wrong and get away with it and we are so proud and honoured to be part of it.
"If we are going to win games in board-rooms and in front if television cameras like this, I think we should close shop and say: ‘Do we really respect this game we honour so much and have a passion for it?’.
"If there is really a case we are going with now, why don’t we all go to the nearest ballet shop and get some nice tutus. Get a great dancing show going on, no eye-gouging, no tackling, no nothing, and then we will all enjoy it.
"But, in this game, there will be collision and the guy who won that collision, who is the hardest, that’s the guy I will always select. If you are going to make it soft, if people want a stale series and people don’t like it, I can’t do anything about it.

"What I would love is for people to stand up and take it on the chin and say: ‘Well done South Africa, well done for what you have achieved in this series and well done to everybody out there, like we did in 1997.
"Nelson Mandela and Frederick de Klerk both got the Nobel Peace Prize and, whatever they did wrong in their lives, nobody can take away the fact that they won that.
"So, whatever went wrong in this Test series, nobody can take away the fact the South Africans are joyous about this Test series."

“Everybody in life has an opinion. If I am the weakest link, then we are bloody strong. I don’t know about it and I don’t have time to think about it. I know, myself, I’m a God-given talent, I’m the best thing I can be, so what you think doesn’t bother me. I know what I am and don’t care a damn."

"I really don’t care. You know what, when I close my eyes at night and you know you were honest with yourself and everybody around you…
"You guys are only doing your job. I don’t show any interest in your job … I am so glad you show a lot of interest in mine."

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