Crusaders cleard of gouging claims from Bulls
A Super Rugby citing commissioner says eye-gouging allegations levelled by two Bulls players against the Crusaders after a weekend match in Pretoria cannot be substantiated.
Sanzar chief executive Greg Peters said on Monday the commissioner had reviewed video footage of the match from several camera angles not available to the television viewers and had found there was no case to answer.
Bulls forwards Chiliboy Ralepelle and Flip van der Merwe complained to referee Jaco Peyper that they had been eye-gouged during Saturday's match, won 32-30 by the Bulls. Peyper used a white card to refer the incidents to the citing commissioner.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder says he expects an apology from the Bulls if the complaints aren't upheld.
"The citing commissioner has reviewed it and after that review there was nothing in the video footage that would point to the allegation being substantiated," Peters said.
"The citing commissioner also found it interesting that the Bulls did not follow through with a complaint within the four-hour window after the game."
Blackadder said he was concerned the white card system, introduced to Super Rugby for the first time this season, could be used by teams to make spurious allegations against opponents.
Peters said he doubted that was the case but he said no action would be taken against the Bulls players who made made the allegations against the Crusaders.
Making false allegations would be regarded as bringing the game into disrepute.
"If we thought they were making them on a vexatious basis then we would certainly be asking some questions," he said. "But in the heat of the battle it's hard for a player to always know exactly what's happened and that's the purpose of the white card."
Blackadder said it was obvious even from a cursory examination of the evidence that there was no case to answer.
"The first one with Chiliboy, you would expect that the player would come out of the breakdown holding his eye, but he certainly didn't. I wonder whether it was a negative ploy," he said.
Crusaders captain Kieran Read was disappointed the allegations had been made.
"Initially I was really surprised at the allegations," he said. "It has now come out that there's no case to answer.
"It's a kick in the guts to us because we're men of integrity and it's no surprise that it's turned out the way it has."