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Edwards ups the ante as Springboks chase sweep

BRITISH and Irish Lions defensive coach Shaun Edwards has branded South Africa coach Peter de Villiers a "clown" for condoning Schalk Burger's eye-gouging of Luke Fitzgerald.

Burger has been suspended for eight weeks for the attack on Lions winger Fitzgerald during South Africa's series-clinching win on Saturday.

Edwards, an assistant to head coach Ian McGeechan, said the Lions "got a bit of a result" when the International Rugby Board vowed to rid rugby of the "particularly heinous" act of eye-gouging following the latest incident.

"Interestingly, but probably only coincidentally, the IRB acted a day after (Lions center Brian) O'Driscoll had intervened to point up the appalling utterances of the South African coach, Peter de Villiers, who made himself look an utter clown after the match by appearing to condone gouging," Edwards wrote yesterday in his column for the Guardian newspaper. "I wouldn't normally call another coach a clown, but anyone who considers gouging is 'part of the game,' which is what De Villiers said, deserves it.

"As O'Driscoll, a man of considerable stature in the game who is admired everywhere he plays, said, no parent in his or her right mind would introduce their child to a sport which condoned such behavior. Rugby is quite physical enough without players losing the discipline that keeps things within reasonable bounds."

South Africa is out to complete an unprecedented series sweep and the Lions are trying to avoid their eighth test loss in a row today.

What is an irrelevant match in terms of who wins the series has so much more at stake when the two teams meet at Ellis Park. There could well be scores to settle and not in terms of those on the scoreboard. The Springboks have never swept a series against the Lions, coming closest in 1924, 1962 and 1968 when they won each series with three wins and one draw.

After squandering a 19-8 lead at Pretoria last Saturday, the Lions limped out of the game with five players going to hospital with injuries -- four of them ruled out of the final test. They haven't won a test since a victory over Australia in Brisbane in 2001, losing that series 1-2 and then swept 0-3 by New Zealand in 2005.


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