The all South African affair between the Sharks and the Bulls at Kings Park Stadium on Saturday proved to be a heated encounter, as the visitors came away with a 19-16 win. But it was not without its controversy as hookers Schalk Brits and Akker van der Merwe both received red cards for a brawl in the second half.
? 'And then the angry Warthog goes buzzerk!'
Both hookers see red in Durban! Schalk Brits and Akker van der Merwe lose control in the South African ?? derby!
— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) March 30, 2019
However, the thing that has caused consternation from fans on Twitter is the fact that Schalk Brits has received a four week ban, while Akker van der Merwe only has a three week ban. This is despite many fans feeling that the Sharks hooker was the aggressor in this situation, and Brits was acting in self-defence.
Furthermore, many feel that this was a headbutt from van der Merwe, and potential gouging as his hands covered Brits’ eyes, as well as the barrage of punches landed on the former Saracens forward. Brits is not completely innocent, as he did throw punches, but that pales into insignificance compared to what he received.
While some fans have been quick to point out that the reason Brits’ ban was longer is because he has a history of striking players on two different occasions, many feel that that still is not a good enough reason to have a longer ban.
This is what the fans have been saying:
Looking back at the incident, feel @SchalkBrits was hard done by. I felt the red card sanction may have been sufficient. But I don't own a disciplinary handbook.
— Trevor Cramer (@CramerTF) April 2, 2019
Absolute BS …. 0 consistancy …. no wonder numbers are dropping !!
— HvW (@hendrivanwyk13) April 2, 2019
He has a week longer on his ban than the guy hitting him as well. Ridiculous
— Marc (@MarcRhodri) April 2, 2019
I can't believe Brits got a 4 week ban for his role in both players been sent off. He clearly wasn't the main instigator at the Shark Tank. Something serious wrong with those citing commissioners.
— Lester Meyer (@LesterM75) April 1, 2019
I'm sorry but SANZAAR, what the actual fuck? @SchalkBrits gets four weeks while the Angry Warthog, who instigated the "altercation" with a shoulder charge to the head gets only three weeks? What the fuck is your "Foul Play Committee" smoking?https://t.co/AuV2Xhg5aj
— Brian Bakker ????? (@incautius) April 1, 2019
So retaliation is more of a sin than recklessly entering a ruck leading with the head and making contact to the head of a player unable to protect himself and continuing to be the aggressor once you have pulled the player out of the ruck ?
— Winton Stoman (@wjstoman) April 1, 2019
Absolutely don’t agree. Akker deserved a three months ban and an assault charge would not have been out of place while Brits probably didn’t even deserve a yellow. And I’m not a bulls supporter
— David Wolpert (@DavidWolpertZA) April 1, 2019
@theyellowcap Just another reason why our stadium attendance numbers are dwindling incase anyone cares… Because our sport is governed with different set of rules for different people / time zones / teams / countries… Tearing up my season tickets, I'm done with this joke !
— Werner Groenewald (@WerieGroenewald) April 2, 2019
— livelifen0w (@livelifen0w) April 2, 2019
Completely agree – didn’t think Schalk deserved a card at all. The natural reaction to a head butt should be a free punch to the head – a bit like a free hit in cricket after a no-ball
— John Wilson (@jmwilson161202) April 2, 2019
Watching it live was genuinely surprised brits was red carded. Looked like a red to van der merwe, max sanction yellow to brits, bulls pen.
— Cosbie (@healthypeanuts) April 2, 2019
I watched it and thought Brits did very little wrong. The officials seemed to completely ignore van der Merwe flying into the ruck, leading with his head, which caused the whole incident!
— Andy Matheson (@AndyMatheson3) April 2, 2019
While a decision like this would always cause a stir, this seems to go much further than simply a ban for two players. Many South African fans are saying that this is the problem with rugby currently, and have not only directed their anger at SANZAAR’s judicial system, but explained that this is why viewing figures for rugby are dwindling. They are saying that there is too much inconsistency, and some players and teams get preferential treatment over others. It is hard to argue with that in this circumstance, as van der Merwe’s actions seem far more acrimonious.
As it turns out, both players will miss the same amount of matches, but it seems to be the principle in this case, and Brits’ longer ban has caused outrage.
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