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Take up ballet and get tutus, SA coach taunts 'soft' Lions

SOUTH AFRICA head coach Peter de Villiers yesterday further inflamed the eye-gouging row with the British and Irish Lions, accusing them of being soft and suggesting they swap rugby for ballet.<br /><br />De Villiers also reiterated his defence of Schalk Burger after the flanker escaped with an eight-week ban for clawing at Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald&rsquo;s face in the Springboks&rsquo; series-clinching win on Saturday.<br /><br />Burger&rsquo;s behaviour, and the decision of referee Christophe Berdos to show only a yellow card, incensed the Lions, with scrum-half Mike Phillips and head coach Ian McGeechan voicing their disgust.<br /><br />But De Villiers yesterday hit back at the criticism of his team&rsquo;s approach, which hospitalised five Lions, suggesting the tourists would be better suited to more genteel pursuits.<br /><br />&ldquo;Rugby is a contact sport and so is dancing. Guys who can&rsquo;t take it, let&rsquo;s go to the nearest ballet shop and get some tutus,&rdquo; De Villiers said. &ldquo;If we&rsquo;re going to make it soft because we want a safe series and people don&rsquo;t like it, I can&rsquo;t do anything about it.&rdquo;<br /><br />De Villiers&rsquo; refusal to condemn Burger after the match riled McGeechan, who declared himself &ldquo;very disappointed&rdquo; by his opposite number&rsquo;s comments.<br /><br />But even after the No6 received an eight-week ban, which rules him out of the weekend&rsquo;s final Test and half of the Tri-Nations series, the Springbok stuck by his man.<br /><br />&ldquo;I have watched the television footage, and I am still convinced that nothing he did was on purpose,&rdquo; De Villiers added. &ldquo;He is an honourable man.&rdquo;<br /><br />De Villiers, however, later appeared to back down on his comments, saying: &ldquo;It was never my intention to suggest that I condone foul play. That is the last thing I would ever do and I apologise for that impression.&rdquo;