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Page last updated at 05:51 GMT, Monday, 29 June 2009 06:51 UK

SA's Burger handed eight-week ban

Schalk Burger and Bakkies Botha
Burger and Botha are both out of the third Test against the Lions

Schalk Burger has been banned for eight weeks by the International Rugby Board for eye-gouging British and Irish Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald.

The South Africa flanker was sin-binned in the first minute of the second Test on Saturday, which his side won to seal the series, and was cited afterwards.

Springbok Bakkies Botha will miss the weekend's last Test after being banned for two weeks for dangerous charging.

Lions prop Adam Jones was left with a dislocated shoulder after the incident.

Botha and Burger attended the hearing in Pretoria on Sunday, one day after their side took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series following a thrilling 28-25 victory at Loftus Versfeld.

Burger was shown a yellow card by French referee Christophe Berdos, a decision taken on the advice of New Zealand touch judge Bryce Lawrence, who spotted the offence only 32 seconds into the game.

The decision incensed Lions coach Ian McGeechan, who said: "It should be automatically a red card as I understand it.

"To me that it is never part of the game, I could never condone actions like that."

I don't believe it was a card at all

South Africa coach Peter de Villiers

Both incidents were picked up by citing commissioner Steve Hinds, who referred them to IRB judicial officer Alan Hudson in the 12-hour post-match window.

Ireland winger Fitzgerald gave evidence at the hearing in Pretoria, along with Lions lawyer Richard Smith and the match officials.

And Canadian Hudson handed out the double suspension some 13 hours after the hearing had begun on Sunday.

Burger's offence of eye-gouging is seen as the most dangerous in rugby, with players handed lengthy bans if found guilty.

Italy captain Sergio Parisse was also banned for eight weeks for the same offence during a 27-6 defeat by New Zealand in Christchurch on Saturday.

However, South Africa coach Peter de Villiers refused to condemn Burger's actions, comments McGeechan admitted he was "very disappointed" by.

"I don't believe it was a card at all," stated De Villiers. "In the first minute already there had been a lot of needle and if you watch the whole game you will see how many yellow cards they were let off.

606: DEBATE
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"This is sport, this is what it's about. If things were clear-cut then we shouldn't even bother preparing for a game. Everyone is entitled to their opinion."

McGeechan was not present when De Villiers spoke but when informed of the comments made by the Springboks boss he added: "I am very disappointed if that's what he said because for me you can't see that and say it's a part of the game that I would ever want to be associated with."

Burger is suspended until late August and will consequently miss the first three matches of South Africa's Tri-Nations campaign but Botha will be available for the world champions' opener against New Zealand in Bloemfontein on 25 July.



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see also
Give Lions more time - McGeechan
29 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Battered Lions lose injured props
28 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Burger 'gouge' angers Fitzgerald
27 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
McGeechan saddened by Lions loss
28 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 28-25 Lions
27 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
South Africa v Lions photos
27 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
SA v Lions 2nd Test as it happened
27 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Emerging Springboks 13-13 Lions
23 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 26-21 Lions
20 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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