Ten years after head-butting All Black Jimmy Cowan, Bakkies Botha has claimed he would do the exact same thing if the situation happened again on the field of play. Now retired, the 40-year-old earned the last of his 85 Test caps in 2014 and has no regrets about one of the most infamous incidents in his bruising career.


On the receiving end of an illegal jersey tug in the second minute of a Tri-Nations match in Auckland, Botha reacted by head-butting the back of Cowan’s head when they subsequently collided on the Eden Park ground. 

Referee Alan Lewis and his team of officials missed the foul play but Botha was cited and suspended for nine weeks. He was remorseful at the time, claiming in the immediate aftermath of the ban that he sincerely regretted what occurred.

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“I truly regret my actions and will make sure that I put the extended time away from the game to positive use and return to playing with the right attitude,” he said following his SANZAR judicial hearing. However, in a Midi Olympique French newspaper interview a decade after the incident, he now claims his conscience is clear and he would react the exact same way with his head now as he did in 2010. 

Asked if he had any regrets about the incident, Botha said: “No, not a single second. And if I were to relive this situation, I would do the exact same thing!

“That day in Auckland I was battling with Cowan following a kick. I was faster than him. I had passed him and he pulled me by the shirt to slow me down. When I caught up with him ten metres away, I made him understand that I hadn’t liked it… I hate injustice.


“It’s not something I’m proud of. I kind of dropped the Springboks that day. And Jimmy Cowan won the mini-battle. But I would react in exactly the same way today… it’s still the fault of the No9. They talk too much and know better than anyone how to get you out of the game.”

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