SARugbymag.co.za looks back at some of the worst moments of the past year.
HABANA SLAMS FAKE NEWS
Bryan Habana was quick to set the record straight after learning that a false story was doing the rounds regarding his untimely demise. A fake news website published an article in early May claiming that the Toulon and Springbok winger had been ‘tragically killed’ in a drive-by shooting in Paris.
The piece went on to quote police sources, as well as Habana’s ‘management team’, with both parties reportedly confirming the player’s passing. As the man himself clarified via a video posted on Twitter, reports of his death were greatly exaggerated.
‘As you can all see, I’m very much alive,’ Habana said with a bemused look on his face. ‘I’m doing well and enjoying the south of France. It’s unbelievably disturbing how some people can do stuff like that [post false news] as it has a massive impact on people’s lives.’
I’m all good ?? pic.twitter.com/c4eTc6mL7H
— Bryan Habana (@BryanHabana) May 4, 2017
REALITY BITES FOR WELSH STAR
What was Ospreys hooker Scott Baldwin thinking when he put his hand through the fence at a local game lodge to pet one of the lions? Did he mistake one of the males in the pride for the family Labrador?
Those who were present say that Baldwin was lucky to come away from the experience with his hand intact. Baldwin went for stitches and further treatment at a Bloemfontein hospital afterwards and was forced to miss the Ospreys’ Pro14 clash against the Cheetahs.
When asked about the incident later, Ospreys coach Steve Tandy had no sympathy for Baldwin or his Disney-inspired ideas regarding African wildlife.
‘There was an incident with a lion, it’s nothing to do with the lion in all fairness to it but he did bite Scott,’ Tandy explained. ‘When you put your hand into a fence and there’s a lion in there, you can expect to get bit.
‘He had plenty of warning, so it’s pretty stupid on Scott’s behalf. I don’t know what sort of wildlife programme Scott has been watching that suggests you can pat a lion as if it’s a kitten.’
FAIR TO FOUL
Maitland flanker Mark Meafua copped a 10-year ban for striking a referee in the face during an U19 match in Australia. Prior to the game between Maitland and Newcastle Wanderers, Meafua was in line for the tournament’s fair play award. Two incidents, however, would compromise those ambitions as well as a career in professional rugby.
Meafua was summoned by the referee – a teenager himself – after striking a Newcastle player with his elbow. The situation escalated after the official reached into his pocket for a red card. Meafua rushed forward and shoved the referee in the face, much to the disgust of the crowd and some of the other players.
He was subsequently arrested at his home and charged with common assault.
BEALE’S BACK-ROW ‘MARE
Step aside Jonny May, there’s a new outside back willing to make a fool of himself for the set-piece cause. Last year, the England winger copped a lot of abuse – especially from his team-mates – for his hilariously poor scrummaging effort in a Test against Argentina. This past November, Kurtley Beale found himself in a similar position when Wallabies captain Michael Hooper was sent to the sin bin and the visitors needed a back to pack on the side of the scrum.
The game against Wales in Cardiff was still in the balance at that point with five minutes remaining. Beale crouched and placed his shoulders and arms in what he thought was the appropriate position, initially binding himself to the prop, and then rectifying the mistake by binding onto the adjacent lock.
‘Definitely doesn’t know what he is doing,’ chirped one commentator, while the other chuckled. Needless to say, the Wallabies didn’t waste too much time getting the ball in and out of the scrum.
‘WORST ASSAULT IN RUGBY’ LEADS TO ARREST
In late November, police in the United States released a disturbing video of a player assaulting an unsuspecting opponent. The incident occurred in a university match played in Arizona in February, and was caught on camera by someone at the game.
Christopher Crawford is seen walking towards Douglas Neary, who at that stage is tying his bootlaces. Crawford then proceeds to kick Neary in the head, an action that led to the latter suffering concussion and requiring facial reconstruction surgery.
Crawford was subsequently charged with aggravated assault. When the 21-year-old eventually surrendered himself to the police, he claimed that he ‘was not sorry, and was acting in self defence’, and that he had been punched earlier in the match.
Three referees told police that the kick was ‘the worst thing they have ever seen in their history with rugby’. The entire coaching staff was fired as a result, and USA Rugby also temporarily suspended the club.