Springbok thug… er, lock, Bakkies Botha received word today that he’d be receiving a nine-week ban for his flagrant headbutt on New Zealand’s Jimmy Cowan at Saturday’s Tri Nations opening match in Auckland. Botha appeared before a SANZAR judicial officer in New Zealand on Sunday to receive his sentence.
According to the South African RFU, Botha admitted the charge and expressed remorse. Botha left the meeting without speaking to anyone in the media and later apologized to Cowan via a media statement. Look, I work in public relations and if you want to get out of Dodge and make a faux-apology that gives you the appearance of caring about your actions then the South Africa RFU hit it right on the head. And if Botha is smart he’ll keep his mouth shut for the nine-weeks except for being seen at some photo-op “anger management” course, or teaching rugby to some schoolkids.
I’d understand letting Botha off with a nine-week ban for his actions if this were his first infraction. Hell if this was his first sentence then I might even say it was too strong. But let’s take a look at Botha’s list of previous bans for violent infractions, shall we?
- From Wikipedia: “Botha is known as one of the “hardest” locks in world rugby. He is particularly fond of the dark side of sport and has received bans for biting, testicle grabbing, head butting, and eye gouging.”
(OK, let me say now – I’ve thrown a retaliatory punch or two in the ruck, but if you ever grab my boys, on the field or off, I’m going to club you like a Canadian with a baby seal)
- In 2002, Botha received a yellow card for stamping against France, in his first international match
- Aug. 2003 – Accused of biting and eye-gouging against Australia (8-week suspension)
- April 2009 – 3-match ban for hitting a player in a Super 14 match
- June 2009 – 2-week ban for a dangerous charge in a match with the British/Irish Lions (the ban was later dismissed on appeal)
I understand that South Africans love their rugby a little rougher than anyone else, some of us might call it “Cheap Shot Rugby”, allegedly. But there is a certain point where a player becomes too much of a disgrace to have him on the field. Given his previous run ins with the rugby authorities for his dirty play, Botha might be approaching that line. If he hasn’t stomped all over it already.