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De Villiers charge dropped

JOHANNESBURG, August 10- A misconduct charge filed after Springbok coach Peter de Villiers suggested his team were the victims of a conspiracy to help the All Blacks has been dropped, rugby officials said Tuesday."A claim of alleged misconduct against Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has been dismissed by SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia rugby) judicial officer Jannie Lubbe," the body said in a statement.

"Mr Lubbe heard the case on Friday… and after considering the evidence decided that, on balance of probability, Mr de Villiers had not breached the SANZAR code of conduct."

De Villiers landed in hot water after suggesting officials who sin-binned Springboks players early in their opening two Tests during their disastrous Tri-Nations tour last month were part of a conspiracy to boost the All Blacks.

"I’ve got my own observations about the last two Tests, and maybe I can’t say it in public, but we do have a World Cup in New Zealand next year and maybe it was the right thing for them to win the games so they can attract more people to the games next year," he said on Australian television’s Fox Sports.

SANZAR said its judicial officer had ruled de Villiers’ comments were not specific enough to warrant a misconduct charge.

"Mr Lubbe stated that during his interview with Fox Sports, Mr De Villiers never mentioned or referred to referees or match fixing," the organisation said.

De Villiers said in a press release issued by the South African Rugby Union that he was satisfied with the outcome.

"As the verdict makes clear, at no time did I mention referees or a conspiracy and the finding has put this whole incident into context," he said.

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"The matter is behind us and we can get on with preparing for our next Test match. I will not be commenting on it further."

De Villiers is no stranger to controversial comments.

The coach was forced to apologise during last year’s Lions tour after appearing to condone rough play by responding to an eye-gouging ban by saying tutus could be bought at the nearest ballet shop.

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