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Boks coach backtracks on Burger support

Published: 11:58AM Tuesday June 30, 2009 Source: Newstalk ZB/ONE Sport

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has been forced to backtrack on comments which appeared to condone eye gouging in the wake of the Schalk Burger ban.

Burger was banned for eight weeks for gouging Lions winger Luke Fitzgerald in the second test against the Lions in Pretoria.

Burger was yellow carded in the first minute for the eye gouging which television replays confirmed and it was expected that he would receive at least a 12-week ban.

After the eight-week ban was announced, De Villiers refused to condemn his player's actions, saying the flanker should not even have been sin binned.

But the South African Rugby Union (SARU) then issued a joint statement with de Villiers condemning all acts of foul play and sending out a clear message that such acts won't be tolerated in South African rugby.

De Villiers has now backtracked to say it was never his intention to suggest that he condones foul play and that eye-gouging is something that as a team they will never be part of.

The South African says he made his previous comments based on what he knows of Schalk Burger as a player, and not on what occurred.

Italy captain Sergio Parisse also received an eight week ban for gouging. He was ruled to have recklessly but accidentally gouged the eyes of Issac Ross during Saturday's test against the All Blacks in Christchurch.