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South African Rugby
Boks' armbands a message to IRB
Scrum.com
July 3, 2009

South Africa's players and management staged a silent protest during their third Test clash with the British & Irish Lions in support of suspended lock Bakkies Botha.

The entire Springboks squad wore white armbands during their 28-9 defeat at Ellis Park as a sign of their anger at the ban handed down to their team mate for illegally clearing out Lions prop Adam Jones in last weekend's second Test.

The citing and subsequent ban caused anger and confusion in the Springboks' camp and also drew condemnation from the Lions management and Jones despite the dislocated shoulder he suffered as a result.

A statement released on the website of the South African Rugby Players' Association (SARPA) confirmed that the players wanted to send a message to the IRB, who may have set a dangerous precedent with the decision.

"The Springbok players all feel for Bakkies as he will miss this memorable final Test against the British & Irish Lions. As a sign of solidarity the Springbok players have decided to wear white arm bands during the Test match. At the same time the players want to send a clear message that they require the IRB to have an urgent and serious relook at Law 10.4 (j)," said Piet Heymans, CEO of SARPA.

"Despite comprehensive submissions by the attorney acting for Bakkies Botha and SARPA, where a very important point of principle was developed as to the proper application of this Law, and in particular when a player lawfully binds or attempts to bind for the purpose of this Law, the appeal was not successful."

The ban incurred by Botha was overshadowed in the early part of the week by a controversial eight-week ban for Springbok flank Schalk Burger, who was found guilty of making contact with the eyes of Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald.

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