Springboks

Bakkies: Hero or villain?

2014-11-24 12:02
Bakkies Botha (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Bakkies Botha, who announced his retirement from international rugby at the weekend, was renowned as a lock with a no-nonsense attitude on the field. 

Botha made his Springbok debut on November 9, 2002 against France in Marseille, while his 85th and final appearance for South Africa was against England at Twickenham earlier this month.

During a stellar career, the 35-year-old lock won the Rugby World Cup with the Springboks in 2007 and was victorious at almost every other level of the game.

He has winners’ medals from the Rugby Championship (Tri-Nations), British & Irish Lions Series, Super Rugby, Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup, as well as the Heineken Cup and French Top 14.

Botha is the seventh most-capped Springbok of all time, is a three-time SA Rugby Player of the Year nominee (2003, 2004 and 2005) and holds the world record for the most Tests as a lock combination in the starting line-up with Victor Matfield (63).

However, his career blighted with controversy, with his confrontational style resulting in a number of controversial incidents.

He received a yellow card for stamping in his debut against France. Then, in August 2003, he was accused of biting and then eye-gouging Wallabies hooker Brendan Cannon, and although there was insufficient video evidence to consider the biting charge, and he was found not guilty of gouging, he was still suspended for eight weeks for "attacking the face".

Cannon has given interviews stating that Botha both bit and gouged him, and Botha himself gave an interview to The Times saying that his ban was "for an eye-gouge".

In April 2009, Botha received a three match ban for striking the Waratahs’ Phil Waugh in a Super Rugby match.

In June 2009, whilst playing for South Africa in the second Test against the British and Irish Lions, Botha was banned for two weeks for a dangerous charge on the Lions prop Adam Jones in a ruck which left the Welsh player with a dislocated shoulder requiring surgery.

Botha's appeal against the ban was dismissed, and he missed the third Test against the Lions. The injured Jones himself later came out in defence of Botha, telling the Wales Online website:

"Botha shouldn't have been banned for it, nowhere near it. I don't have any complaints. He just cleared me out of the ruck and I got caught. Everyone counter-rucks nowadays and, if anything, I was in the wrong place. He just hit me and I was unlucky. So I was surprised to see he got banned. I know we didn't cite him so I don't know why the independent commissioner did. It was just a fair ruck from a hard player. When I have met him before he seems like a tidy enough bloke so I'm not seeing it as anything malicious."

In a controversial move, the whole South African team wore armbands with 'Justice 4' (a reference to Botha's shirt number) written on them in the third and final Test against the Lions, in support of Botha and in protest over perceived inconsistencies in the citing process, for which the South African Rugby Union was charged with bringing the game into disrepute by the IRB.

In May 2010, during the Bulls’ Super Rugby game against the Stormers, Botha was suspended for four weeks following a dangerous clearout of wing Gio Aplon. This was Botha's first match as captain of the Bulls. The suspension meant Botha missed the playoffs.

On July 10, 2010, in the first Test of the 2010 Tri-Nations against New Zealand, Botha was suspended from all rugby for nine weeks by an IRB judiciary for head-butting All Black scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan, ruling him out of the remainder of the 2010 Tri-Nations.

Hero or villain? You decide...

Read more on:    bakkies botha  |  rugby
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