Legendary Springbok Bakkies Botha has been ranked No 1 on a five-man list of most ill-disciplined players in rugby history.
According to a Ruck.co.uk compilation, Botha tops the list of players who took things too far on the field, followed by Frenchman David Attoub, Englishman Calum Clark, Kiwi Richard Loe and a second Englishman in Dylan Hartley.
Ruck’s top-five dirtiest players of all time:
1. Bakkies Botha (South Africa)
The Springbok lock certainly totted up the bans. Eight weeks for ‘attacking the face’ of Aussie hooker Brendan Cannon in 2003; three weeks for striking another Wallaby, Phil Waugh, in 2009; two matches for an illegal clear out on Adam Jones in the second Lions Test in the same year; four weeks for a similar offence on Gio Aplon in 2010; and nine weeks for a head-butt on Jimmy Cowan in 2010. Unarguably one of the dirtiest rugby players ever.
2. David Attoub (France)
Stade Francais prop Attoub was banned after gouging Ulster’s Stephen Ferris during a stormy Heineken Cup clash at Ravenhill in December 2009.
Ferris told the hearing: ‘The contact was very strong and extremely painful – the finger in my right eye was forced downward in a poking and gouging motion; it was someone trying to drive a finger as hard as he could into my eye socket and I could not prevent it.’ Ouch!
3. Calum Clark (England)
This one still makes me wince. Northampton flanker Clark was found guilty of intentionally hyper-extending and breaking the arm of Leicester hooker Rob Hawkins during the 2012 LV cup final. The ban was initially for 64 weeks, but was halved due to his guilty plea.
4. Richard Loe (New Zealand)
Known as The Enforcer, All Blacks prop Loe had something of a reputation. In October 1992, his actions caught up with him when he was found guilty of deliberately inserting his fingers into the eyes of Otago full-back Greg Cooper ‘with considerable force’ during the national championship final.
5. Dylan Hartley (England)
Take a deep breath. 60 weeks worth of bans incoming.
In April 2007, the Northampton hooker was banned for 26 weeks for gouging Wasps duo James Haskell and Jonny O’Connor.
In March 2012, he was suspended for eight weeks for biting Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris while on England duty at Twickenham.
In December 2012, he was handed a two-week ban for striking Ulster’s Rory Best.
In May 2013, he was suspended for 11 weeks for abusing referee Wayne Barnes during the Saints’ Premiership final defeat to Leicester, missing the Lions tour of Australia as a result.
Mark Keohane writes the reality of Botha’s perceived ill-discipline is very different to the perception.
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images