VIDEO: Bok puts SANZAAR prejudice in spotlight
WATCH as veteran Springbok hooker Schalk Brits talks about the inconsistencies that blight SANZAAR disciplinary hearings.
Brits, fronting up to a media scrum after returning from his four-week ban, suggested South African teams still get the short end of the stick in terms of the outcomes at disciplinary hearings.
The 38-year-old hooker suggested there is a need for an overhaul of the Super Rugby judicial systems.
He was slapped with the four-week ban for his role in the punch-up with fellow Bok Armand van der Merwe in the Bulls’ 19-16 win over the Sharks in Durban at the end of March.
Both players, Brits and Van der Merwe, were issued with reds cards by New Zealand referee Mike Fraser.
Van der Merwe pleaded guilty and was slapped with a three-week ban – reduced from a ‘mid-range entry point’ of six weeks, due to mitigating factors, including the Sharks hooker’s good judicial record and the fact the player has pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity.
The Bulls hooker, Brits, was handed a four-week ban – reduced from six weeks. However, he appealed the suspension, which was upheld.
In a statement, at the time, judicial committee Chairperson Helen Morgan said she took into account mitigating factors – including the player’s demonstrated remorse, extensive experience, the fact the player’s actions were in self-defence and the player has pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity. The judicial committee was conscious of the fact that the player was not the instigator of the incident, but due to the player’s previous two periods of suspension for striking offences, the judicial committee was unable to provide the full 50 percent discount for the sanction.
Brits was not happy with the inconsistency of this and other hearings and articulated his displeasure to the media in no uncertain terms.
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“Do I think it is fair?,” he asked, then answered himself: “Maybe not. [But] I can’t do anything about that.
“If you look at the incident from beginning to end, the outcome should not have been what it was.
“I made peace with it quite quickly.”
He made it clear he felt the system is not fair.
He pointed out that he had a relatively clean record in his 20-year career.
“Now you are penalising me for a red card that I got four years ago,” Brits said.
“Surely you have to look at the length of a player’s career.
“They just said: ‘Sorry, this is the guidelines.’ Speaking to Stefan Terblanche [one of the members of the original disciplinary hearing] there are very strict guidelines.
“I think, going forward, there need to be changes made as to how they apply that [the laws].
“Sometimes you feel, from the South African point of few, how can a guy in Australia get two weeks and a guy in South Africa get four weeks?
“As a rugby player‚ I feel that we [South Africans] get the short end of the stick a lot of times.
“I really think they need to reassess the process.”
Brits will relaunch his bid to force his way into the Springbok World Cup squad, heading to Japan later this year, when he runs out for the Bulls against the Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.