Sharks coach Dick Muir has apologised to timekeeper Gabriel Pappas following his outburst in the media centre during the Super 14 game against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday evening.
John Bishop of The Witness writes that Muir angrily approached the timekeepers during the game and after Sprinngbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis had been prevented from returning to the field following treatment for a deep cut above his eyebrow.
The timekeepers, who sit in the press area at Ellis Park, ruled that Du Plessis had been off the field for longer than the permitted 15 minutes.
However, officials alongside Muir on the touchline had told the Sharks coach that he still had time to send his hooker back into action.
When Du Plessis was prevented from returning to the field by referee Mark Lawrence, who was acting on the instructions of the timekeepers, Muir angrily swept through the press area, accosted Pappas and called him “a f…… cheat.”
Brian van Zyl, the Sharks CEO, said Monday night that the matter had been handled internally. “Following the verbal altercation between Dick and Pappas we have held an in-house meeting. He has apologised to Gabriel Pappas,” said Van Zyl.
More reports expected
Early on Monday Sanzar’s regional director Johan Botes said that no complaints had been received and no action against Muir was likely.
However, later in the day it was reported that Botes confirmed that one report on the incident had been received from a relevant party and that three more reports were expected.
Once the four incident reports had been received, the matter would be referred to Sharks CEO Van Zyl before Sanzar made a ruling, he said.
There was clearly some confusion amongst the officials involved at the game and Van Zyl said that he hoped that Muir’s apology would end of the matter.
Van Zyl said that the managers of SA Rugby Referees, Andre Watson, was conducting his own investigation into the confusion and why there had been a breakdown in communication between the officials.
Support for Muir’s version of events came from the “neutral” match doctor Jonathan Patricios who agreed that it was poor communication between the match officials in the stand and on the touchline which led to the bust-up.
He told News24 that he had personally fetched Du Plessis from the tunnel when there was still one-and-a-half minutes remaining for the hooker to return to the field.
“The Sharks manager alongside the field and the officials at the table (on the touchline) all agreed. But the official time-keepers told the referee that the 15 minutes was up and Lawrence said Du Plessis could not return.
“It was just a case of poor communication.” Muir is not the first coach to bare his soul to a rugby official, but not too many have chosen a crowded press-box to make their feelings known.
There was one piece of good news for Muir on Monday. Tongan Epi Taione, one of the five contenders for the Rugby World Cup Players of the Tournament in October, is finally on a plane bound for Durban from Japan Taione, who played at centre in the World Cup, but will probably be used by Muir as a powerful, ball-carrying loose forward, arrives in Durban this morning.
His departure from Japan was delayed by the success of the Sanyo Wild Knights who reached the second of two finals at the weekend.
Muir said they were looking forward to the big forward’s arrival.
“He’s coming at a good time for us. With the bye this weekend, he can settle in. He will provide us with a powerful injection and adds further depth to the squad.”Tweet