There will those that don’t agree with the appropriateness of Springbok Duane Vermeulen’s comic turn during the Currie Cup match between the Bulls and the Sharks, but big No.8 certainly captured the mood of a decent section of rugby fans after a difficult week for the sport.
The potential long-term consequences of head collisions and concussion in the sport were brought into sharp relief with news that a group of former players are planning to take a class-action lawsuit against the RFU, WRU and World Rugby over neurological issues they believe have come about as a result of playing the game professionally.
The high tackle protocols, now in place for over a year, have left some in the rugby community questioning how exactly tackles can be made effectively within the protocols, and the Bulls’ forward’s comments certainly speak to that side of the aisle.
The Sharks beat the Bulls 32-29 in a Currie Cup crunch match in Durban this past Saturday, with Bulls flyhalf Morne Steyn missing a late penalty that could have drawn the match.
However, the moment of the match wasn’t the late drama, any of the five tries or the many brutal hits. It was the comment of Bulls captain Duane Vermeulen to Sharks counterpart and fellow World Cup Bok Lukhanyo Am after the second of the two yellow cards.
The first yellow card was dished out by referee Marius van der Westhuizen, in consultation with his TMO Marius Jonker, to Sharks centre Marius Louw in the 19th minute – following an awkward collision with Steyn.
Six minutes later the match officials, having now painted themselves into a corner, had no choice to issue Bulls prop Jacques van Rooyen with a yellow card for a similar incident.
Both Vermeulen and Am were called forward by the referee for a schoolmaster-like lecture.
It was then that a clearly agitated Vermeulen turned to Am and said: “Maybe we should play touchies [touch rugby]?”
The referee at least saw the funny side of the great Bok’s remark.
It seems Duane is firmly in ‘the rugby’s gone soft brigade’ then.
I get that what he said to the ref here was a bit of a joke but given what’s happened this week with players coming forward about horrendous brain injuries I think this just comes across as insensitive. ???? pic.twitter.com/TMNxXgDArI
— Edward Barker (@EdwardB24376757) December 13, 2020
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