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Is Bakkies Botha a bully?
Pretoria – Here we go again!
Bakkies Botha is facing another hearing for alleged foul play, the Stormers are unbeaten again early in the competition and the Bulls are again promising to fix the problems of the previous weekend “with hard work”.
Botha and Sanzar’s citing commissioners know one another so well by now that they should probably be on first-name terms, but that friendship was not enough to prevent one of the country’s most controversial rugby players from having to defend himself again early this week.
He is expected to appear in front of a disciplinary committee on Tuesday.
This time Botha has been cited for a tackle on Stormers scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage. It’s his third citing for a transgression against a player much smaller than him.
His previous two citings for alleged foul play against Gio Aplon (Stormers at Newlands) and Jimmy Cowan (Springboks against New Zealand at Eden Park) threatened to jeopardise his international career.
While the Duvenage incident does not look particularly serious, it’s significant that it is another citing against a player much smaller than him.
No foul play can be justified, but it may have been easier to stomach had it been aimed at a member of the Stormers’ pack, who bullied the Bulls on Saturday.
Foul play remains foul play, but Bulls supporters would have gained more value for their hard-earned money had Botha rather tried to dominate direct opponents such as Andries Bekker or Rynhardt Elstadt.
Unfortunately that did not happen, but Botha was not alone in his surrender to the Stormers pack.
The Bulls pack submitted like one man to the onslaught.
Captain Victor Matfield did his best afterwards to be honest about his team’s problems, but at the same time pulled the plaster off the gaping wound.
“We are a team that is traditionally good at the detail. Our execution was always our strength, but we’re no longer accurate. I know we can fix it and that is why Saturday’s match against the Lions is so important,” admitted Matfield.
“We simply have to put things right.”
The same thing was said after the defeat to the Highlanders and while Matfield assured Sport24 that there are no problems behind the scenes, the players’ actions contradict their captain’s statements.
Too many Bulls players appear to be involved with charity work, social networking, TV advertisements, spreading DVDs and books, writing columns, golf days and contractual negotiations to be able to keep their attention between the four lines.
Coach Frans Ludeke praised the Stormers afterwards for their commitment and attitude, acknowledging them as worthy winners.
The Bulls are touring in two weeks’ time and need to rediscover some form quickly.
Botha’s hearing, injuries to Gurthrö Steenkamp and Zane Kirchner, and too much mediocrity by senior players is threatening the Bulls’ status.