Cape Town - SARU president Oregan Hoskins has spoken out strongly against the inconsistency of recent rulings at disciplinary tribunals.
Hoskins is incensed by what he believes to be the unfair handling of cases involving South African players compared with their New Zealand and Australian counterparts.
He referred to the recent harsh bans handed to Bismarck du Plessis (four weeks), Frans Steyn (five weeks) and Jean Deysel (seven weeks) – while similar offences by Kiwi and Aussie players received more lenient treatment.
"I didn’t intend to go to the media on this," Hoskins told City Press.
"But frankly, I’ve just had enough.
"I feel we, as administrators, are fighting one fight and do not have the support of our judicial and refereeing panels.
"To be absolutely honest with you, I am at my wits end, because I am seeing how we are being torn apart on the field of play and by judicial decisions – and we are not getting the support we should be getting from these people, who are part of our organisation."
Hoskins, generally known for his low-key approach, forcefully denounced some of the rulings that have been passed on local players.
"I was at Kings Park [when the Sharks played the Crusaders].
"Take nothing away from the Crusaders, they deserved their win, but I was on the centre line watching the dangerous high tackles and shoulder charges.
"The first one, on SP Marais, almost took his head off and the next, on Odwa Ndungane, went totally unpunished.
"Then the third one, on Deysel, almost took his neck off.
"They just continued to dish out yellow cards, because that’s the instruction they’re given. [The Crusaders had three players yellow-carded within minutes of each other.]
"Deysel did a stupid thing, obviously, by retaliating with a knee on the guy’s head, although it wasn’t an injurious type of thing.
"But still, it is not allowed, and he got a red card and a heavy suspension – while the others were not even cited.
"There was also an incident in the previous game [between the Sharks and Chiefs] when Du Plessis and Steyn were sent off, when a Chiefs player dangerously kneed Cobus Reinach in the back – he wasn’t even cited."
Hoskins said he had called a meeting with key figures in judicial and disciplinary structures, where he intended to make his dissatisfaction known.
These figures included Justice Lex Mpati, head of both SARU and SA, New Zealand and Australian Rugby (SANZAR) judicial committees, head of referees André Watson and citing commissioner Freek Burger.
"I’m so incensed, absolutely frustrated, and the public is outraged.
"I was a judicial officer; I was a citing commissioner, I know the drill.
"I studied the laws; wrote the exams; it’s not like I’m standing in judgement as a layman," added an angry Hoskins.
One of the key questions he wanted answers to was the inconsistency in SANZAR disciplinary rulings.
"Steyn’s situation was handled by an experienced citing administrator, who felt there were grounds for leniency, because another player was involved in the [tip] tackle.
"Then there’s an appeal by SANZAR CEO Greg Peters – of his own volition – and the banning is escalated to five weeks.
"How can that be? And if that is the right way to go, why are there no other citings and appeals when it appears the match officials and judicial officers have erred?”
Hoskins said he was acutely aware there were "massive concerns among our supporters that our players are more harshly treated” and he had sympathy with this view.
"I am putting my foot down, and I want answers," he added.
He highlighted that he was also unhappy with the lack of discipline in local rugby, with "senior players overstepping the mark", but would take that up with each of the provincial teams.