Yellow-carded Boks cleared
The Springbok team breathed a collective sigh of relief after stalwarts Os du Randt and Victor Matfield were cleared on Wednesday after being cited for their scuffle in Saturday’s Currie Cup final.
Both men received yellow cards for fighting during the heated title-decider at Loftus Versfeld, and disciplinary committee presiding officer Deker Govender ruled that the 10 minutes spent in the cooler was sufficient punishment.
“The yellow cards received by both men was deemed to be sufficient sanction and therefore the citing was set aside,” Bok media liaison Rayaan Adriaanse told reporters on Wednesday.
In a worst-case scenario, the two star forwards could have been handed a six-week ban that would have ruled them out of the entire end-of-year tour. Instead, White will be able to use the 42-capped lock and 58-capped prop at his discretion for matches against Argentina, Wales and France.
When told the news, the coach flashed a broad grin, clearly happy that further disruptions to the Boks’ preparations for the three-Test tour have been avoided.
“That’s a huge relief,” he said, “because the last thing I needed was the added pressure of losing two [more] of my top players. Victor and Os bring so much to the squad that it would not have been ideal.”
The Boks face a full-strength Argentinian outfit on November 5, with injury concerns to only flyhalf Andre Pretorius, while wing Tonderai Chavhanga followed Pedrie Wannenburg home on Wednesday morning, further exacerbating White’s problems.
“Tonderai left us this morning,” confirmed the coach, “but he hasn’t been ruled out of the whole tour.
At this stage, he is only out of the Argentina leg and the medical team will monitor him closely.”
White had already been robbed of the services of Breyton Paulse (club commitments), Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Ricky Januarie, Gurthro Steenkamp, Ashwin Willemse, Marius Joubert and Joe van Niekerk (all injuries) before the squad was even announced.
However, White’s primary concern is over the crucial pivot role, and to that end he has called up Sharks utility back Brent Russell and Cheetahs under-21 star Meyer Bosman. Both players arrived on Wednesday and were whisked off the embassy to get their passports in order.
“It does not mean they will definitely tour, but I’m covering all my bases at the moment.”
John Smit, awarded the coveted Player’s Player of the Year at Tuesday night’s SA Rugby banquet in Sandton, said the team are fired up for what promises to be a tough five weeks.
“The team sessions are going well and mentally we are better prepared. After the disappointment of last year [the Boks lost to Ireland and England], the motivation is definitely there.”
The squad complete the training camp in Johannesburg on Friday before flying to Buenos Aires via Cape Town at the weekend.—Sapa