Heineken Cup
Venter unrepentant over bizarre interview
ESPNscrum Staff
December 16, 2010
Saracens boss Brendan Venter talks to the media, Heineken Cup launch, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales,
Sarries boss Brendan Venter has refused to apologise for his bizarre post-match interview last weekend © Getty Images

Saracens boss Brendan Venter insists he has no regrets about his now infamous post-match interview last weekend that resulted in a warning from European Rugby Cup (ERC) officials.

The outspoken South Africa has become a YouTube sensation since his bizarre exchange with Sky Sports reporter Martin Gillingham in the wake of Saracens' Heineken Cup loss to Racing Metro, the former Springbok centre repeating and agreeing with each question put to him.

Venter's behaviour has been interpreted as a protest against a 25,000 euros fine imposed by ERC for being "inappropriately critical of ERC, the tournament, match officials and the sport of rugby union" following his team's game against Leinster at Wembley in October. But Venter, who has confirmed that the inspiration for his interview came from the football mockumentary film Mike Bassett: England Manager, prefers to see the funny side.

"I haven't watched it back so I don't know how I looked," Venter told the Daily Mirror. "But to keep a straight face throughout - I thought I did a great job.

"Look, I agree I've got a mischievous streak in me but that's because life is a privilege to live. There are a lot more serious things out there than rugby. It is a game. It is not life and death. I didn't insult anybody and nobody got hurt.

"For that reason I'm quite comfortable with what I did. I put something out there which people can debate. I love good wine and I love good rugby and do you know why? Because when it comes to both, everybody has got an opinion. I can't tell you the wine you're drinking is bad and you shouldn't drink it, because, if you like it, you like it.

"It's the same with rugby. It's very, very subjective. That's why it is so much fun. Look, I genuinely don't go out spoiling for a fight. If people ask me nicely not to do something, I don't do it. They are good people at ERC just trying to do a job. I feel I've made my point. I don't want to fight them."

ERC have sought reassurances from Saracens that there will be no repeat following their return clash with Racing in Paris on Friday night but Venter has refused to promise to tow the line. "Their perception is that my way is not always the right way," he added. "I try to be diplomatic but I accept I'm not always as good at it as I should be."

Venter, who will leave his post at Saracens next month, incurred ERC's wrath for his comments to the media following the defeat by Leinster, with 15,000 euros of his fine suspended after he was found guilty of misconduct at a subsequent disciplinary hearing.

The suspended portion of Venter's fine runs until June 30, 2012, and would be payable only if he is found guilty of further acts of misconduct arising from ERC tournaments before that date. Venter has been involved in a string of high-profile disputes with the rugby authorities and it has been suggested in some quarters that they contributed to his decision to return home to South Africa next month.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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