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Monday, October 18, 1999 Published at 23:49 GMT 00:49 UK

Springbok playmaker banned for stamping

Venter leaves Uruguay's Sebastien Aguirre in his wake

South Africa's bid to retain their World Cup crown suffered a setback after influential centre Brendan Venter was banned for three weeks for stamping on an opponent in a group match against Uruguay.

The ban means Venter will miss Sunday's quarter-final against England or Fiji and effectively ends his participation in the World Cup, which ends on November 6.

Springbok officials immediately announced they would appeal against the ban.

Venter was sent off during South Africa's 39-3 victory over Uruaguay for stamping on flanker Martin Panizza.

He insists there was no malice in his actions and that he was aiming for the ball only to see it scooped away by scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen.

Venter: Springboks still superior

Venter, 29, said after the hearing at Murrayfield: "I still believe the Springboks can go on and retain the World Cup."

Venter's team-mates have rallied to his defence.

"He's not a malicious character," said lock Mark Andrews.

"We had the same sort of unsettling things occur in 1995 (when hooker James Dalton was suspended after being sent off against Canada) and that had the effect of pulling us together.

"So it will be interesting to see how we react this time."

Pieter Muller is in line to take Venter's spot if the South African appeal is unsucessful.

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