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Ref ‘unsportsmanlike and unprofessional’ to Schalk?

Schalk Burger’s behaviour on Saturday was unacceptable. And if it were my decision, I’d give him another two weeks for the press statement he made on Thursday — or at least insist he fire his copywriter.

The sentence was somewhat surprising given that some reports stated that he could be suspended for a month or more. Rugby is certainly entering dangerous territory if it allows players to assault verbally match officials so openly.

Schalk’s response was a most interesting read. published his statement.

He clearly apologised without being sorry, even if he did say to the Sanzar committee that his behaviour “could not be justified”.

What’s striking about the statement is that it blames the ref, accusing him of being unsportsmanlike and unprofessional. Well, that’s the way it reads, anyway …

“My action on the field was as a result of my anger and frustration about the decisions of the touch judge and referee, which I regarded and experienced at the time as incorrect and unfair. Accordingly I responded to the yellow card which was awarded to me in a manner that was unsportsmanlike and unprofessional and which led to the finding that I made myself guilty of unsportsmanlike behaviour.

“During my hearing I made it clear to the judicial committee that I acted in an unsportsmanlike manner, which could not be justified even in the light of what I regarded at the time as the extreme poor quality of the decisions of the concerned match officials,” the statement read.

What was unsportsmanlike and unprofessional about the way in which the match officials handled the matter? Kelvin Deaker (the ref) and Willie Roos (the touch judge) saw something on the field, conferred and Deaker held up the yellow card.

All in all, it could just be a case of Schalk’s eloquent copywriter using a poor choice of words to say something he did not actually mean.

Whatever he meant, the Stormers are going to miss Schalk against a rampart Crusaders team and a rejuvenated Reds the following week. If both matches are lost, it does not bode well for the Stormers’ chances in the competition.


  • Steve Whitford is the editor of (Do Gaming). After working as a journalist across a number of sectors for a couple of years, he began freelancing and then moved into tech public relations and lastly content generation and Internet strategy. He owns Intrinsic Media, a content and copywriting company.


  1. Paddy II Paddy II 29 February 2008

    I completely agree that Schalk’s behaviour was unacceptable and his suspension richly deserved.

    However, I still feel a few niggles over this episode.

    Historically, Schalk has a stable temper and doesn’t lose it easily. Why did he lose it this time?

    Why did we never see on TV the incident over which this furore arose?

    Why did (and do) the Stormers feel so strongly against Willie Roos? Are they at all justified in this enmity?

  2. Nic Nic 29 February 2008

    Schalk is a rugby player not a copywriter. He was,however wrong in his response to the officials. Some semblance of insight by Willie Roos could have diffused the entire episode. Roos could have pointed out to referee that Schalk attempted to STOP an altercation and in doing so contravened the law but recommended a penalty for the offence and a warning not do do so in future as a repeat of such an incident would lead to a yellow card. The Stormers captain could then have relayed the message to the entire team. The punishment would then have been equal to the crime’

  3. Steve Whitford Steve Whitford 29 February 2008

    Given how often the Stormers were infringing its not surprising that he was yellow carded for the offence. I also doubt he wrote the statement given the type of language that was used. Schalk may have fully intended for it to say what it said, which I think is criminal as its a verbal replication of his actions on the field.

    Nevertheless. He has his punishment and the Stormers will feel it.

  4. Interesting Interesting 2 March 2008

    ..what I find interesting is not wether he is guilty of innapropriate conduct or not…but why. In a game of extreme physical contact, one can argue that it must be easy to “fly off the handle” and let ones emotions get the better of themselves. Possibly, but these are proffessional athletes that study and train four of five days a week intensively in their sport and chosen proffession. As professionals, I cant believe – the pschological aspects of the game and being able to control ones emotions on the field are not as actively drilled into the players, as the more active tactics of the game are. When there is a outburst of emotions and ill discipline – usually, I believe, there is a undercurrent of unsettled emotions and discipline, that exists, for whatever reasons. This exists, I believe,not only on the field during active play..but importantly prior to the player even running onto the field . One asks the question then – does this exist with Schalk. To me, its not a question of wether or not he is guilty of loss of emotional control, poor sportmanship and ill discipline…..but rather why !?

  5. Steve Whitford Steve Whitford 3 March 2008

    Having seen the spear tackle and punches thrown in the Sharks/Bulls game on the weekend, I think you ask a very valid question. Not enough is being done to address discipline bu coaches and teams in my opinion.

  6. Nic Nic 3 March 2008

    Perhaps it is time for a zero tolerance attitude provided the game oficials are firm,fair and consistent.

  7. Steve Whitford Steve Whitford 3 March 2008

    I think its a great idea. Naas Botha brought it up on Sat saying Bulls behavior was unessesary. Refs should use TV replay in discipline incidents where officials did not see it…

  8. Nic Nic 4 March 2008

    It would be ideal if the “TV referee” could alert the match referee immediately when such transgressions occur.

  9. Lara Lara 15 March 2008

    I think it was rather pathetic..

    Unsportsman behaviour? Oh get over yourself..seriously.

    I seriously wish our boys can just play a proper game of rugby without being picked on.

    He didn’t act the best way on the field, but I bet most players would act like that if they had a spine.

    Oh well he is back, and as good as ever.

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