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. iAfrica.com 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.