Ex-Springboks enforcer Bakkies Botha has shed light on his remarkably bizarre introduction to the Top 14, the second row on the receiving end of an unforgettably crude incident when making his Toulon debut away at Biarritz. Botha thrived on his reputation as a hard man who thought he had seen and experienced it all, but what happened at Parc des Sports Aguilera showed that he hadn’t. 

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Taking up the story about the December 2011 game in the south-west of France, the World Cup winner told Midi Olympique: “It was winter, there was fighting and I was busy in an open scrum. I had a knee on the ground. I had just finished a counter-ruck or something like that… suddenly, I felt something come into my butt. I yelled: ‘What’s going on here?’

“I lost control. I left the two guys I was fighting with on the ground, I straightened up and behind me, the first guy I saw was my team-mate Sebastien Tillous-Borde. I thought to myself, ‘What’s going on in this country exactly?’”

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Botha thought that his scrum-half had wanted to speed up the release of the ball and his only way of doing that was to get the second row out of the way at the ruck by putting a finger up the South African’s butt. “I thought he was crazy. I jostled him, opened my hand and put a pie on him. In his gaze, I saw that he didn’t understand what I was doing.

“On the bus, he came and asked me, ‘What happened, Bakkies? Why did you do that?’ I replied: ‘But you are crazy. You can’t put your damn finger in my butt and think nothing will happen.’ Sebastien exploded with laughter.

“When I got to Toulon, I asked Bernard (Laporte) to watch the video of the match. I dissected the action and there, on the ground, I saw this damn Marconnet (Sylvain Marconnet, the Biarritz prop) lying next to me and I saw him stick his finger in my butt. 

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“I couldn’t believe it. I said to myself: ‘This cursed Marconnet, he immediately found the target. My God, he must have done this kind of thing dozens of times’. I had just got to know French rugby!”

Touching someone in their private parts on a rugby pitch made headlines only recently in the Six Nations, England’s Joe Marler getting banned for ten weeks after touching the testicles of Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones. “I like Alun-Wyn Jones, he’s a good fighter,” said Botha. 

“And I also like Marler. I’ve read some of these interviews, it’s very funny. He is a real character and his gesture did not really surprise me. But we can no longer tolerate this kind of thing on a rugby field. Society no longer allows it. In the eyes of some people, it’s not funny.”

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