Bulls refuse to apologise for eye-gouging claims

The Bulls will not apologise to Todd Blackadder, as the Crusaders coach had demanded, following claims of eye-gouging during their weekend match.

South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby’s (Sanzar) judicial system found no evidence to back up claims by the Bulls that Crusaders players had eye-gouged them.

Bulls forwards Chiliboy Ralepelle and Flip van der Merwe had complained to referee Jaco Peyper during their 32-30 victory over the Crusaders at Loftus on Saturday. Peyper issued a white card and put the two alleged incidents on a report for a citing commissioner to review.

“The Bulls are not interested in getting into a public spat with the Crusaders as we have always had the greatest respect for them and a very cordial relationship,” Bulls high-performance manager, Ian Schwartz, said in a statement on Monday.

Blackadder had told a post-match media briefing that he expected an apology from the Bulls—a statement he repeated to the New Zealand media—should the allegations be proved false.

According to the Bulls, Sanzar found no evidence in the video material, after a full review by citing commissioner Freek Burger. Consequently no further action would be taken.

“The citing commissioner has reviewed it and after that review there was nothing in the video footage that would point to the allegation being substantiated,” Sanzar chief executive Greg Peters said.

Stand their ground
The Pretoria-based side, however, said they would stand their ground on claims made by the players.

“The rules are clear and we applied them 100% correctly,” said Schwartz.

“We had the right to raise the matter with the referee and we accept the fact that there was no video evidence.”

Schwartz said the Bulls’ players’ integrity was above reproach.

“I just want to say that our players’ integrity is just as important to us as the Crusaders’ players integrity is to them.
I feel the players will not make unfounded accusations unless something has happened.”

The Bulls made it clear they would not apologise to the Crusaders.

“For them to suggest we must now apologise just because there is no video evidence available would mean that we have lied,” Schwartz said.

“It is ridiculous to suggest that every time there is a citing and there is not enough evidence, the other team should apologise.

“It is a pity they have raised the matter through the media, as our doors of communication with them have always been open for a direct approach.

“We would have followed the official and appropriate channels.”—Sapa

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