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Expert calls for probe into Bok match

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Australia Wallabies' James O'Connor (left) and Rocky Elsom tackle Pierre Spies during their Rugby World Cup quarter-final. Picture: REUTERS/Anthony Phelps

A prominent sports professor has challenged the International Rugby Board (IRB) to launch an investigation into the Rugby World Cup quarter-final between South Africa and Australia, saying the match was “bent” with a “predetermined outcome before kick- off”.

Professor Tim Noakes, head of the University of Cape Town’s Exercise and Sports Science Department, said in a hard-hitting interview that it was the IRB’s duty to provide a detailed response on the actions of referee Bryce Lawrence, who failed to issue a number of penalties in Sunday’s match.

Noakes said he did not want to sensationalise anything but the South African public needed to know the truth about what lay behind the lack of decision by Lawrence.

“When science is manipulated to produce a predetermined outcome, it’s called ‘bent’ science. Such science is usually directed by large commercial interests. When the outcome of a sporting event is predetermined, we call it ‘match fixing’,” Noakes said in a letter to the Cape Times.

In an interview on Thursday, he said: “I am not saying that there was match-fixing, I am saying the IRB must prove there wasn’t.”

Noakes said the referee’s inability to penalise illegal actions in at least three areas of the game could only be interpreted in one way – “that he (Lawrence) was benefiting personally by ensuring that the Wallabies would win the bent rugby match, the outcome of which was predetermined even before the kick-off”.

One of the actions not penalised was at the breakdown, in which Australian flank David Pocock put his hands in the ruck, which is not allowed.

There was also a neck charge and high tackle which should have led to yellow cards being issued, Noakes said. No cards were issued during the match.

“I think an injustice has been done and South Africa as a nation deserves the truth. There was something wrong with that game, it seems it was predetermined and the question is who is benefiting from it,” Noakes said.

Andrè Watson, South African Rugby Union (Saru) referees manager, said: “I have no doubt that the IRB will deal with this matter, and that all the details will come out after the World Cup is completed. I have trust in the system, and that it will be handled.

“Bryce Lawrence did make many mistakes during the game, and he just didn’t ref the breakdown. He refused to make decisions in that area.”

Former Springbok captain Corné Krige said while he agreed that Lawrence had made “a lot of mistakes” he didn’t think the controversy should carry on. Instead, he said the rules governing the ruck should be simplified.

“The IRB should clear up the rules of the ruck because there has always been a grey area. There is one rule that says if you are the first player in the ruck, you can touch the ball but other players can’t. If someone touches the ball and is tackled, it all happens in milliseconds, so you either allow hands in the ruck or not at all. But I don’t think we should carry on about it. The players are hamstrung. Rather look at the rules of the game and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Krige said.

Noakes said the IRB could not ignore the game and had to launch an inquiry by an independent panel to explain the decisions not to grant penalties.

“I absolutely think the result would’ve been different. South Africa were the better team by 15 points, they would have absolutely won. They didn’t help their cause because they did mess up six scoring opportunities, but the nature of the game is once you are ahead you can open up and win.

“They were peaking perfectly and their fitness levels were ideal. That’s what makes this so unfortunate and makes the tournament illegitimate. The winner will know that they did not play one of the best teams in the tournament if not the best.”

Saru president Oregan Hoskins and chief executive Jurie Roux are in New Zealand and could not respond to Noakes’s letter on Thursday due to the 11-hour time-difference.

A Saru spokesperson told the Cape Times that it “would not be appropriate” for Springbok coach Peter de Villiers or captain John Smit to comment on the letter.

Noakes, however, said that he did not think a rematch would change anything: “The intensity won’t be the same, the moment is gone.” - Cape Times

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Anonymous, wrote

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08:07am on 17 October 2011
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Whinging, whinging, whinging. Let's not become like the Poms & the Ozzies! Grow up = if you have 76% of the play & still lose, whose fault is it actually?

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R.C., wrote

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09:22pm on 16 October 2011
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@ All Aus rugby fans: After the All Blacks beat you guys today...see how you guys would have been thrashed if the ref wasn't on your side and was actually impartial and objective as Craig Joubert was today? Not so clever are we now mates?!!!!

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Raul, wrote

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02:55pm on 16 October 2011
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Anyway you look at it the ref cost the Boks the game, whether it was incompetence or something more sinister only Mr Lawrence will Know!

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Anonymous, wrote

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12:22pm on 16 October 2011
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The call by Tim Noakes is spot on. The manner in which the Springboks-Wallabies contest was handled, no doubt created two possibilities, firstly, that Bryce Lawrence was intent on securing a win for the Wallabies to ensure that they go through to the finals or that the elimination of the Boks would ensure a smoother path to the finals for the All Blacks. Having done so, the final result will be a complete farce, because the true champs were sidelined through questionable means. It has to be asked, was this solely the decision of Bryce Lawrence or was he working in concert with others. To those who are quick to cry "Sore Losers,"when the truth be told and when the beans are spilled, many an enthusiast will look back on Tim Noakes'call as the lone voice who cried out in the wilderness and seemed to know what really happened behind the scenes!

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brenton, wrote

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10:03am on 16 October 2011
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I do think Springboks should have taken more opportunities but I blame the IRB for allowing a Kiwi Ref to even ref that match they should have had a northern hemisphere ref It is a shame that a ref has to cheat in order for his country to win . So all you Aussie Supporters when NZ win today dont you even think about crying foul you loose

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Michael, wrote

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09:06am on 16 October 2011
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Last time Bryce Baby was this worried about getting a semi - he was watching "Brokeback Mountain" (for the *first* time)

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Natashia, wrote

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09:56pm on 15 October 2011
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SALUTE Michael.

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Dekka, wrote

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09:43pm on 15 October 2011
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@Michael "the Suzie" story is a myth. I suspect that it is a water borne virus, which affected some of the NZ team and occasionally affects certain visited players from sporting teams visiting RSA. Four years ago eight of us visited South Africa and half of us had the "shits". We may have contracted the problem in Johannesburg, Cape Town or Sun City, I dont know, but my wife had to be put on a drip and was given atibiotics in Johannesburg. I found myself sprinting in Shopping Centres, Grandwest etc in search of the loo. Upon my return to Australia I still had the problem for a while and was diagnozed as having a water-borne disease. It was pure agony mate. I took no chances and took very costly medication before my trip earlier this year and this protects me for the next three years from similar problems including cholera.

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Michael, wrote

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03:25pm on 15 October 2011
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The AB's have belly ached for 4 years about a single missed forward pass - how much worse 29 blatant infringements that brought a smirk each occasion to Lawrence's pinched little face (watch the game again to see). The only people who didn't see a problem with the cheating were myopic Ozzies desperate at any cost to get through or Kiwi's relieved they wouldn't face the Boks. Were it blown against the Ozzies like that we'd never hear the end of it. Ditto that for the Kiwis - just look at how they're still howling about '95 (16 years ago), still claiming the fictitious 'Suzie' the waitress' vrot food. Please! Were Suzie true, it still wouldn't be a justification for this travesty. On this note: I have the greatest respect for NZ and the fearsome ABs. But why constantly remind us that their boys were having jittery-sphincter difficulties on the field - which is normal when they play the Boks anyway! Why not leave their great warrior; who were deserving runners-up; with some dignity and quit reminding us what was sloshing around in their jocks.

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Kangaroo, wrote

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01:03pm on 15 October 2011
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Sore Losers...get over it...cause the Springboks were never meant to be World Champions forever....it is only a Sport at the end of the day ...also you have other pressing issues to deal with...like Malema and Zuma...the Government on the whole.

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Spock101, wrote

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12:05pm on 15 October 2011
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@ LK - I completely agree with you. I have just watched the Wales France game and Sam Warburton was RED CARDED for doing what Brad Thorne did to John Smit. As you stated, Thorne had nothing done against him while John was out for ages. The red card probably cost Wales the game because they lost by only 1 point, although they also missed quite a few kicks at the post, any one of which would have given them the game. The difference between the Thorne v Smit occasion and today's game is that the Frenchman wasn't hurt. So Warburton was sent off for what he did (the actual offence), not for the end result. When the ref handles the game in that way, then you can accept you lost, but in last weeks game, the ref didn't handle the game in that way, which is why everyone is up in arms.

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Morality, wrote

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08:47am on 15 October 2011
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I must admit i am astonshed by the 'no morals' types. Is a professional sport 'world' any different from the world at large? how can ppl advocate the outlook that you do whatever you can as long as the ref does not blow you up? If this logic holds true then it is okay for everyday ppl to lie, steal, cheat, rape etc because there is no official there to tell you not to do so? There are rules governing behaviour because of ppl like you who lack moral fibre and need a nannypolicemanref to follow you around saying no dont do that, that is cheating. Is this what has become of sportmanship? So degraded that subverting or ignoring rules somehow is okay? sadly this seems to be finally creeping into rugby too.

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Melbourne Boy, wrote

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06:57am on 15 October 2011
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Wow. I guess Tim is prepared to fight a defamation action. Does he have any actual proof? Passion, upset, emotion, these are not proof. I reckon, I think, I feel are not proof. The onus is not upon the IRB to prove there was no match fixing. Under most western law you are innocent until proven guilty so the onus is upon the claimant (Tim) to prove the match was fixed. Maybe the law is different in SA. Does this mean every time your team loses the winning team has to show it didn't cheat?

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Dekka, wrote

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06:21am on 15 October 2011
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The only person making a smidgin of sense in this article is Corne Krige. His views have to be respected, because he speaks from experience.

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Pierre, wrote

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01:57am on 15 October 2011
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Agree completely. I am generally not interested in conspiracies, but the amount of mistakes was just too much to believe they were mere oversights. I can understand a single forward pass can be misjudged, but I cannot except that an experienced international referee can make a mistake at so many breakdowns. Its like a top 10 tennis player hitting every single serve into the net. An investigation into match fixing should definitely be held. But more the IRB should introduce a different mechanism where one person cannot have so much decision power. I am for more television refereeing power. Use technology to make decisions more uniform. A similar mechanism as in tennis can be used, where each side has 3 options to query. This will limit endless queries and TV replays. However the bottom line here is investigate Lawrence.

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kevin francis, wrote

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12:17am on 15 October 2011
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Comments such as this are bizarre and do rugby no favours. The game was a tough slog and SA didn't win a game which could have gone either way. It was a forward pass and O'Connors first missed coversion following an ealy charge down by the Boks should have been retaken. Get over it. Nothing worse than a poor loser and that's not the South African way.

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Dekka, wrote

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11:16pm on 14 October 2011
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@Adrian, John O'Neill was expressing the view that Australia was entering a golden age, because they have young exciting talent, with a number of players competing for places for various positions, which has never been the case in the past. Australia has a very competitive sporting landscape and Rugby Union has to battle NRL and AFL, which have more following and receive greater and more positive coverage in the press over here. He was talking up the chances of rugby hopefully becomming more popular as a sport within Australia, nothing more or nothing less. If Australia beats NZ on Sunday it will not be as a result of Craig Joubert having been paid off or a case of him favouring the Wallabies. It will simply be a case of them being better on the day.

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deezfreeze, wrote

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11:05pm on 14 October 2011
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The Aussies won, that was the end result, get on with the game,a miss is as good as a mile, stop whinging, stop being sissies. show dem next time, come on semi finals. The Aussies are gonna win.The Bokke were lucky to even get that far, Wales amper beat them, Samoa amper beat them, I dont see these teams whinging about the ref, so let the games begin.

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Aussie bro, wrote

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10:43pm on 14 October 2011
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hahahahahhaaa...yes its all a plot against the Boks. The whole world has conspired against ye....hahahahaaaha...what a pack of jokers you lot are. You're out and you were beaten by the Tri Nations Champions. See you in 4 years Bokke....maybe you will have stopped whining by then.

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Daniel Of Canberra, wrote

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10:36pm on 14 October 2011
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Without any doubt Rugby at this level must have the "Fourth Umpire.. The Camera" that never lies!!

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