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South African Rugby
IRB charge South Africa over protest
Scrum.com
July 6, 2009
South Africa coach Peter de Villiers sports a white armband, in support of Bakkies Botha, while talking to Bryan Habana, South Africa v British & Irish Lions, third Test, Ellis Park, Johannesburg, July 4, 2009
South Africa coach Peter de Villiers talks to Bryan Habana while wearing a white armband © Getty Images
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The International Rugby Board has charged South Africa with misconduct following their silent protest of the two-week ban handed out to Springbok lock Bakkies Botha.

The Springboks took to the field wearing white armbands bearing the message "Justice 4 Bakkies" during Saturday's third Test loss to the British & Irish Lions at Ellis Park. Botha was controversially banned for a dangerous charge on Wales prop Adam Jones in the second Test at Loftus Versfeld, a decision that was greeted with consternation by the Springboks as well as Jones and the Lions management.

With the support of the South African Rugby Players' Association (SARPA), Springbok skipper John Smit went ahead with their silent protest. Jones was not present at the third Test, having flown home to seek further advice on the dislocated shoulder that he suffered following the challenge.

The IRB have reacted by claiming the South Africa Rugby Union is in breach of "regulations relating to the game, including breaches of the IRB code of conduct".

"The IRB takes the view that such an act demonstrates a clear disregard for the disciplinary process," said a statement. "It does so in a manner which brings, or has the potential to bring, the game into disrepute.

"The IRB has notified the South Africa Rugby Union that it intends to begin the disciplinary proceedings. The matter will now be referred to the independent judicial panel chairman who will appoint a judicial officer or committee."

The Lions series has been dogged by controversy relating to IRB disciplinary procedure, with flanker Schalk Burger being suspended for eight-weeks for making contact with the eyes of Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald and Simon Shaw receiving a two week ban for striking - that will not actually prevent him from playing any games due to the northern hemisphere season being over.

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