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Accusations Emanating From South Africa That White Player Prejudice Is Reason Behind Springboks Struggles

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 24: Jesse Kriel of South Africa holds his head in his hands in dejection as the rain falls during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match between South Africa and New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium on October 24, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Cosatu – The Congress of South African Trade Unions has openly supported the appointment of Allister Coetzee from both a playing and performance point of view, but predominantly as South Africa strives to maintain a more proportioned representation within the South African national team based on ethnicity.

CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 29: South African players sing the national anthem during the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour match between Wales and South Africa at Millennium Stadium on November 29, 2014 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The body which was established in 1984 in order to oppose apartheid and committed to a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa has now had it’s say on the current standing of the Springboks team and has quite controversially called into question white members of the squad as regards to their loyalties to the new head coach.

According to Cosatu there are a number of white players in the squad whose goal it is to see the new regime under Coetzee fail in order to alleviate the new regulations which will certainly limit caucasian players aspirations over the years to come.

“Members of the Springboks who had previously approached Cosatu to look into the lack of transformation, have signalled that there is a group of white players who want to see this integrated team and coach fail,” they said via a press release.

“This may be behind the bad performance of some of the players in the last two Tests. We should never underestimate the attitude of some rugby players and supporters, who are not supportive of this Springbok team and this transformation agenda.

“These players who sabotage the performance of the Springboks must be investigated and removed from the Springbok set-up.

Whether you agree with the new implementations or not, it seems that the governing bodies are somewhat proverbially shooting themselves in the foot as they take one step forward and three steps back.

It goes unsaid that social equality and equal opportunity within sport, or indeed any aspect of life should be a given in any modern society, however, the precipice on which these new rulings are being introduced scream contradiction and do not in any way lead to a positive and successful rugby model.

The press release stated further that: “The coach must also not relent to the pressures on him; we stand and fall by a representative Springbok team that has all our players included.

“The days of reserving some positions for some white players must be gone forever and we must also not include foreign players any longer. We have enough talent in the country to put together great teams that can win our country the matches.

“The coach must not panic and start ignoring players who are part of the squad for imported players we want to see our squad on the field first before the squad is expanded to include others.

“Cosatu will continue to champion the interests of black players who were excluded for white players who were promised positions from their fathers and the Stellenbosch mafia.

“We want a team that includes all the players in South Africa, both black and white, with no more guarantees for old white players.”

DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 15: The scrum packs down during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and South Africa at Forsyth Barr Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)

While the aim of securing a fully indigenous national squad is not only reasonable, but also realistic for a rugby stronghold such as South Africa, the steps being taking to achieve these aspirations are controversial in the sense that they stimulate a divide between players based on race.

They do not constitute an effective and fair playing field for which players can develop and test themselves on the highest level, which is the basis on which the current laws are being introduced to apprehend.

While a country which consists of a 90% black demographic should naturally consist of a playing squad that represents such figures, to impose these circumstances in order to prevent the over-hanging effects of apartheid in the country of white privilege could well be perceived as meeting fire with fire, certainly not a tactic which suggests progress.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Eben Etzebeth is dejected following defeat in the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between South Africa and Japan at the Brighton Community Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Brighton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Cosatu have also pointed the finger at M-Net’s firm group over rugby broadcasting and how they represent a faction of the ‘old white-‘dominated structure of South African rugby:

“An end to the domination of M-Net of rugby broadcasting and that matches should be shifted to the SABC channels or shown during open time on M-Net, whose monopoly in South Africa is part of the old apartheid linked companies state capture.

“Rugby commentators should reflect the new South Africa and the black commentators defended against M-Net, while the old white commentators should be replaced by younger white commentators, as these old commentators still demonstrate apartheid prejudices.”

While the basis on which these new rules are being implemented are not completely unfounded, as a certain degree of perhaps discrimination within rugby, if you will, is plain to the naked eye when considering that South African rugby has always been a heavily white dominated sport in a country which is composed of 90% black ethnicity; it is the means by which the governing bodies are going about addressing this discrepancy which is being called into question.

Many commentators, pundits and citizens feel that it is a political tool being utilised by the ANC party in order to remain relevant within the political motherboard of South Africa and as result the initiatives being implemented are construed and mislead.

As a result you have large national organisational bodies such as Cosatu coming out and personally accusing players of maliciously under-performing in order to dethrone their new manager so as to oppose social change, which on the one hand is in no way their position to do so as the rugby should be left to those directly involved in the game, and on the other illustrates the just how bizarre, if not ridiculous the entire situation is.

Unfortunately if these conditions and environment are to last it may very well lead to the downfall of the proud and long lasting culture of Springbok rugby as we know it.


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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.