Mhambi has been redeployed.

Monday, June 11, 2007

On Keo's blog white men can't jump

No blog that attempts to touch on South African identity can be worth its salt if it does not take a careful look at... you guessed it... rugby.

Lucky you, Mhambi just happens to be a huge rugby fan and has been spending allot of time on Keo's blog. Say what?

Flag waving England supporters
Originally uploaded by elhamisabel.

Don't know what Keo is? Keo is Mark Keohane's blog and is about all things South African rugby. Did I mention it's South Africa's largest blog by quite some margin? It is probably more than double the size in terms of readers and comments than the next 10 pretenders to the South African blogging title put together.

If you want to entertained, infuriated, informed, and get an insight into the minds of a significant and passionate part of South Africa, visit Keo.

In response to news that the Springboks might be forced to select 10 black rugby players, one poster - kilikijaan - on Keo said today:

“picking ten blacks will only strengthen the bok team.Just like the maoris strengthened the all blacks.
Its all about genetics and the coloureds and blacks are far superior.”

Can they identify with white players?

kilikijaan is of course right, genetics does matter in sport. A few years ago sports scientist Prof Tim Noaks showed why persons of West African heritage are very likely to win world sprint titles. East Africans are also thought to have an edge in distance running.

West African heritage also dominates heavy weight boxing. It’s also no coincidence that the All Blacks have many Polynesian players in their back line (but never at lock). It’s unlikely that Japan will ever win the world cup rugby, because of their diminutive size.

In 1994 the papers carried a few stories about how the new SANDF has to create a number of smaller uniforms to accommodate the new black troops into an erstwhile mostly white army.

The fact is that South African blacks - even the Zulus - are not only smaller than West Africans they are smaller than whites with British heritage, who in turn are smaller than Afrikaners.

Unfortunately size matters in Rugby. Games are by and large won and lost in the forward pack. South Africa is in luck. Afrikaners are the largest rugby playing brutes on the planet. If countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Germany and the Netherlands started to take the game seriously, watch out.

So race matters, but some societies choose to ignore its stifeling deterministic logic. Why? Because it’s banal business and people that get hung up on it are creepy. It also obscures the poetry of individual quirks, team work, organistation and passion.

Now England has a ‘black’ population of 4% (allot of them Indian) and the national football team is routinely 50% ‘black’ (but no Indians). Do they care that their team is not representative? Nope, guess what, the vast majority want the best team to represent their country. They select on merit. And a minority gets to feel that they belong.

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