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Page last updated at 22:30 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 23:30 UK

O'Driscoll criticises De Villiers

Brian O'Driscoll and Peter de Villiers
O'Driscoll (left) believes De Villiers has brought the game into disrepute

Brian O'Driscoll has added his voice to the criticism of Springboks coach Peter de Villiers over his stance on Schalk Burger's gouging offence.

De Villiers initially denied Burger had done anything wrong in the second Test against the British and Irish Lions.

The flanker received an eight-week ban, and O'Driscoll said: "To hear the South Africa coach talk about gouging being part of the game was semi-repulsive.

"I just find it appalling. I truly find it a disgrace," added the Lions centre.

Burger was found guilty of "making contact with the face in the eye area" of Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald.

TV footage showed Burger's fingers making contact with Fitzgerald's eye inside the first minute of the match in Pretoria.

De Villiers later issued an apology for defending Burger's actions and the South Africans will not be appealing against the player's suspension.

But Ireland star O'Driscoll added: "When you think about a situation where a parent wonders about whether their child should play rugby or soccer, and you hear comments from a national team coach of that sort - and regardless of the apology he may have submitted - it's essentially bringing the game into disrepute.

"We're trying to promote the game, and yet you hear comments like that."

Fitzgerald was able to continue after treatment, but at the time Burger escaped with only a yellow card from French referee Christophe Berdos - a decision taken on the advice of New Zealand touch judge Bryce Lawrence, who spotted the offence.

After the match, De Villiers said he did not believe Burger should have been sent to the sin-bin.


But on Monday, he backed down, saying: "It was never my intention to suggest that I condone foul play.

"That is the last thing I would ever do and I apologise for that impression."

De Villiers went on to say that "eye-gouging is something that we as a team will never be part of".

"The same applies to biting, head-butting, spear tackling or any other foul play that doesn't belong in the game," he added.

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see also
Gouging penalties to be reviewed
02 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
Boks coach backs down over Burger
29 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Lions lose O'Driscoll for finale
30 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
SA's Burger handed eight-week ban
29 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 28-25 Lions
27 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Burger 'gouge' angers Fitzgerald
27 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union

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