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Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 16:09 UK

Boks fined over Botha ban protest

South Africa captain John Smit sported the armband
The Sprinboks wore armbands with "Justice 4" written on them

The South African Rugby Union (Saru), squad members and team officials have been fined after being found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.

The Springboks have been punished for wearing armbands in the 4 July Test against the British and Irish Lions in protest at Bakkies Botha's suspension.

Botha's two-week ban was for dangerous charging at a ruck in the second Test.

Saru must pay £10,000 and each player involved £200, apart from captain John Smit who faces a £1,000 fine.

However, the International Rugby Board (IRB) has expressed its disappointment at the level of punishment in the ruling, delivered by the independent disciplinary committee, which is a feature of the IRB justice system.

The committee featured two legal experts in Retired Honourable Justice John Hansen (New Zealand) and Judge Guillermo Tragant (Argentina) plus former Australia captain John Eales.

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In a statement the IRB said: "Whilst welcoming the guilty verdicts, the IRB is extremely disappointed at the level of sanctions imposed against the South African Rugby Union and its players in light of the clear findings that they have brought the game of rugby into disrepute and acted in a manner which is prejudicial to the best interests of the IRB and the game of rugby. "

The statement continued by saying the IRB is considering whether to appeal in order to force tougher sanctions, which it must do within 14 days.

The protest came about after South Africa failed in their appeal against Botha's suspension. For the final Test against the Lions, each player wore a white armband saying "Justice 4", in reference to Botha's shirt number.

The Committee ruled that "the playing arena is no place for protest" and that the wearing of the armbands "showed a serious lack of respect and consideration for their opponents".

Saru was also criticised "because they allowed the game and the IRB to be brought into disrepute by not only by failing to attempt to prevent this protest, but by approving of it and effectively consenting to conduct which was prejudicial to the best interests of the IRB and of the game".



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see also
Shaw handed two-week suspension
05 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
Smit defends Botha protest stance
04 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 9-28 Lions
04 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
Smit worried by Botha precedent
03 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
SA's Burger handed eight-week ban
29 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Lions squad selector
07 May 09 |  Rugby Union
2009 Lions: Squad & results
09 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union


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