British & Irish Lions
Phillips slams 'disgusting' Boks
June 28, 2009

British & Irish Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips has slammed the Springboks following their series-clinching victory over the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, branding their off-the-ball shots as 'disgusting'.

Flanker Schalk Burger has been handed an eight week ban for gouging Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald, while lock Bakkies Botha was also hit with a suspension after dislocating prop Adam Jones' shoulder with an illegal charge. The Lions were left reeling due to a heavy injury list in the second-half, with Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Roberts, Gethin Jenkins and Tommy Bowe all requiring serious attention following the bruising contest.

Burger's indiscretion was punished by a yellow card from referee Christophe Berdos, while tough judge Bryce Lawrence was unclear in describing it as "yellow at least". Phillips believes that there was no room for manoeuvre however, insisting that Burger should have seen red after only 30 seconds of his 50th Test.

"They (South Africa) seemed to be able to get away with a lot of punching, gouging and what not," said the Lions scrum-half. "We are the straight guys, and we came out second-best. It's not good enough. It (Burger incident) was a clear red card, as simple as that.

"You can't do things like that. It should have been a straight red and it cost us the game, really. There were punches going on off the ball throughout the game. All you can do is play by the rules. You can play hard, be a tough man on the pitch, but play within the rules. As a professional you work your socks off all week, you come to the pinnacle of your sport and things like that happen.

"You have just got to leave it in the referee's hands. Referees are paid to do a job and we are paid to try to entertain. Lukey (Fitzgerald) said he had to pull his (Burger's) hand off his eyes. That's not sport, that's not the way we play. It is not the gentlemanly thing to do - it's disgusting."

Phillips was one of a number of Lions to excel at Loftus, with fly-half Stephen Jones, fullback Rob Kearney and veteran lock Simon Shaw all fighting to the death.

"We thought it was our day," said Phillips. "It is gutting to lose in the last second like that - it's horrible. People said we had no chance, but we were by far the better team. It was a great opportunity, a chance to make our dreams come true, but it is all about winning."


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