Owen Farrell clatters into André Esterhuizen at Twickenham. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire via AP

CAPE TOWN – The Springboks once wore ‘Justice 4’ white armbands in solidarity for an injustice Bakkies Botha suffered on a rugby field.

The Bok hard man was suspended for two weeks for what was deemed a dangerous charge when he cleaned-out Adam Jones in the second Test against the British and Irish Lions in 2009.

Botha’s appeal was dismissed, and he missed the third Lions Test, which is when the Boks donned the white armbands in protest.

How they wish they could’ve protested the decision by Australian referee Angus Gardner, where he felt that England flyhalf Owen Farrell’s shoulder charge on Bok centre André Esterhuizen was not worth a penalty, after which he blew the final whistle in a 12-11 defeat.

To add insult to injury, Farrell has not been cited either, which means he can play against the All Blacks this weekend.

Botha, now 39 and who played in 85 Test matches, knew exactly how that scenario would’ve turned out if he had carried out the “tackle” on Esterhuizen.

“Red Card I think life sentence for me if it was me. It is hard to wrap your arms when you lead with the shoulder,” he replied, half tongue-in-cheek perhaps, but the other half most definitely seriously, to a fan on Twitter about the incident.

Bok coach Rassie Erasmus and his team may have still been hurting after the controversial call, but he put on a brave face when asked about it at a press conference in Paris on Monday ahead of Saturday’s clash against France.

“After every game, we give a report into World Rugby – Alain Rolland is the head of referees, who will give us feedback,” he said.

“We can’t change what the referee’s decided, and you have to live with those things. As I said last Saturday after the match, those are the kind of things that are within the laws – it’s something everybody must do.

The decisive moment of the game came right at the end, where this challenge by Owen Farrell on André Esterhuizen was deemed not to be a shoulder charge by referee Angus Gardner. Photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

“And I think that must just be the ground rules. If that’s acceptable, then do it. If it’s not acceptable, then don’t do it. But we always give in the reports, and they come back to us with answers or explanations for us.

“So, whatever that is, we will adapt to it.”


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