Nine-week ban for Botha
Springbok lock given nine weeks after headbutt on All Blacks scrum-half
Last Updated: 11/07/10 1:42pm
South Africa lock Bakkies Botha has been banned for nine weeks for headbutting New Zealand scrum-half Jimmy Cowan during the opening Tri-Nations clash in Auckland.
Botha butted the back of Cowan's head as both men hit the deck after chasing a loose ball early on in the All Blacks' emphatic 32-12 triumph at Eden Park.
Referee Alan Lewis missed the incident but Botha was cited and SANZAR judicial officer Dennis Wheelahan handed out a nine-week suspension after a hearing in Auckland on Sunday.
It means that Botha's Tri-Nations is over as he is not eligible to play again until after September 4, the same date as South Africa's final match in the series Australia.
Botha was later yellow carded in Saturday's game after persistent infringements, and All Blacks coach Graham Henry was not surprised that he has been banned.
The Springbok man's disciplinary record is not the best, and Henry believes he has been lucky to not get a longer ban considering his history.
"I'm not surprised," Henry said of the suspension. "He's got a history. He's probably lucky he didn't get more than nine weeks.
"It was just one of those things that happens in a game which is not part of the game and has been dealt with correctly."
Botha had a two-week ban last year after a dangerous charge on British and Irish Lions prop Adam Jones, and also received an eight-week suspension for "attacking the face" of Australia hooker Brendan Cannon in 2003.
Botha also received a four-week suspension during this year's Super 14 for recklessly charging into a ruck, and now he will miss out on the Tri-Nations after yet another transgression.
The Bulls forward has expressed his remorse for his actions. "I sincerely regret the incident," Botha said. "I have let my team, my country and family down and I have done an injustice to the Springbok jersey and what it stands for.
"I apologise to Jimmy Cowan and the New Zealand rugby public for what happened. Rugby is a physical sport but it has to be played within the boundaries and spirit of the law.
"I truly regret my actions and will make sure that I put the extended time away from the game to positive use and return to playing with the right attitude."
Meanwhile, Henry reported three injuries from the game, with utility Richard Kahui sustaining a shoulder injury, which Henry reported was "not good", and will have scans in Wellington on Monday.
Winger Joe Rokocoko suffered a hamstring complaint and Cowan pulled up with an abdominal strain. No cover had been called in yet.
Henry was delighted with his side's clinical display against the world champions.
"We expected to play well, but 32-12 is a wow," Henry said. "We're surprised by the magnitude of the result. The score-line was blown out of proportion. I'm sure things will be more realistic next week.
"We'll look at what the Springboks brought to the game that we didn't think they were going to bring. We'll get our feet back on the ground and see what alterations we need to make.
"They'll be a wounded animal next week, and they'll play accordingly. They're a quality side with bright players and they're well coached. They'll improve immensely, so it will be a more difficult game (in Wellington)."