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September 9, 2009

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Boks coach takes aim at refs

SOUTH Africa is being unfairly targeted by referees because of their status as the world's best team, according to Springboks' coach Peter de Villiers.

The outspoken South Africa coach, whose fiery tirades have previously landed him in hot water with rugby officialdom, also said it was a "complete waste of time" consulting referees before test matches for clarification.

After four straight victories in the Tri-Nations, South Africa's title bid was stalled with an upset 6-21 loss to Australia in Brisbane on Saturday, with the Springboks repeatedly being penalized at the scrum.

"People don't want to see other teams being successful. That is my biggest problem at the moment," de Villiers was quoted as saying by South Africa news portal News24.

"We can't go public about certain things because we don't have all the evidence, but the body language of certain officials when things went against us in that game made us worry," he added, referring to the Brisbane test.

After a hail of penalties in the Boks' 32-25 win over the Wallabies in Perth the previous week, de Villiers wrote to the International Rugby Board (IRB) seeking clarity, but was given short shrift by the referee panel, which judged the officiating the best to that date in the Tri-Nations.

"I believe it's a complete waste of time," de Villiers said when asked about consulting referees before matches.

"It doesn't matter if we ask for an explanation of the scrum rules. The problem is pointed out but is not officiated properly by the referee and the other officials on the field."

Happy officials

"The officials were so happy when decisions went against us on the day. I am talking about the number one rugby team in the world. Shouldn't they really get the other guys to that level?"

"Or do they want to break things down so that the game can become mediocre and everyone has a chance to win it? We don't want to dwell on that point, but if that is the case, then I feel I am wasting my time by talking to them."

De Villiers' comments are likely to attract attention from the IRB's disciplinary panel, which has previously sanctioned the coach for taking an uncompromising public stance.

The IRB fined South Africa's rugby board US$16,500 last month after players and management wore arm-bands during their series win over the British and Lions in July to protest a two-week suspension given to lock Bakkies Botha.


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