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Faf de Klerk has broken his silence about being on the receiving end of X-rated Jake Ball tackle

By Liam Heagney

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World Cup-winning Springboks scrum-half Faf de Klerk has broken his silence over the crunching tackle to his head from Jake Ball during last Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 win by Sale at Scarlets. Ball made contact with de Klerk’s head when clearing out at a ruck, an incident that even veteran referee Nigel Owens suggested on social media could have merited a red card. 


Ball’s intervention went unpunished and what made the incident at Llanelli all the more bizarre was how the illegality of the tackle wasn’t even noticed by match referee Mathieu Raynal and TMO Philippe Bonhoure when they reviewed the clash, the officials checking instead whether Ball was offside when he launched himself at de Klerk.  

The incident attracted much commentary on social media, with Owens twice tweeting about it. “It doesn’t look good from that angle but would need to see the other angle to see if contact with head and legality of the tackle. Was it not looked at by the officials?” said the veteran referee before adding a second tweet: “If contact with head then it should be RC irrelevant if ball is out or not.”

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Now de Klerk has had his say on the X-rated incident, the Sale scrum-half appearing on this week’s Rugby Pod show with Andy Goode and Jim Hamilton where he was immediately quizzed about the much-talked-about collision. “All good, it’s fine,” said de Klerk. “It was a bit of a rugby incident but no hard feelings at all. 

“I don’t have any issues with him, but he [Ball] might have an issue with me. We did have a chat after the game and I don’t think there is any animosity but that is how the game goes. 

“He was trying to get their team on the go and that is one way of doing it, to spoil the ruck for us and to stop us getting quick ball. It just happened. Afterwards, when I looked at it it was maybe a bit more serious than I had initially thought but hopefully there is no animosity and we can get along playing again. 


“According to me, if the ref calls ‘ball out’ the guys can have a go at the ball but you can’t play the player. So that was what I asking about. I was fine if he said the ball was out, then you can have a go at the ball but I’m pretty sure you can’t have a go at the player, so that was my initial thought of it. 

“If I had lifted the ball fair play he could have tackled me, but that was what I was just asking. I wasn’t even sure of the head contact. After I saw it on the replay that is when I thought maybe there is something more to this but the ref cleared it and we had to play on.”

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Faf de Klerk has broken his silence about being on the receiving end of X-rated Jake Ball tackle