Mhambi has been redeployed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Gavin Evans we're Gatvol of instinctive (and deeply unreflective) racism

Mhambi was shocked this morning by an article published by the UK Guardian. An article full of factual errors and blatant bigotory that one person decribed aptly: An exercise in instinctive (and deeply unreflective) racism.

Trying to pass the lines
Originally uploaded by fabdany.

I was going to post excerpts but decided to post the whole thing, plus selected comments. You have got to love the internet, first I was depressed but then I saw these comments I knew that this article will come back to haunt Mr Evans. Two of the comments were from well known Afrikaner and Dakar goer Chris Louw. Also the writer of the Boetman is Gatvol article. He worked with Evans at the Mail and Guardian in the eighties. I have already posted my own opinion on this subject (race and the Springboks) and you can read that here.

Rugby a reflection of nations' true colours

Look at a picture of South Africa's rugby team and it is hard to sidestep a rather embarrassing conclusion: doesn't look much like South Africa, does it? Or rather, it looks all too much like a different South Africa, the old one, when rugby was run by white men for white men (with perhaps a fleet-footed, dark-skinned wing recruited for the sake of appearances).

This unsettling portrait - basically unchanged after 15 years of "non-racialism" - is prompting South Africa's politicians to lace up their big boots. Suddenly, affirmative action has become real, and from 2008, politicians say that two-thirds of the national rugby team must be black. When that happens, well, there will be a temporary dip in performance (because so few black players have been brought on to an international level), and a lot of whining, but clearly, it is a change that is overdue.

But what about this lot? Aside from sublime play from one of the team's two black players, Bryan Habana, is there anything to celebrate about South African rugby? Has anything really changed since the bad old days?

In 1995, when South Africa won the World Cup, I tried and failed to break a 21-year habit of wishing the worst for them. On the one hand, there was Nelson Mandela in a green- and-gold shirt and embracing Springbok captain Francois Pienaar. But on the other, there were the team-mates of Pienaar's who unambiguously represented the old order - for instance, one of them had been arrested for spewing out a stream of racist invective and seriously assaulting a black teenager in a nightclub. And behind them, as president of the South African Rugby Union, was the grotesquely gloating Louis Luyt, an apartheid-backing tycoon who treated the game as his personal fiefdom.

Luyt then appointed as national coach the incompetent Andre Markgraaff - soon dismissed for raving about "fucking kaffirs". He was replaced by Carel du Plessis, a coach with no qualms about picking the hooker Henry Tromp, who had been jailed for beating a black labourer to death. And even after this lot were gone, the old breed kept popping up - such as the prop Toks van der Linde, who had to be ordered home during a tour for calling a black South African woman a "kaffir girl".

The root causes of all this are fairly straightforward: rugby was first brought to South Africa by an English clergyman in 1861, but by the 1880s it was already attracting an enthusiastic following among young Boers, and throughout the 20th century it was the prime passion and pastime in Afrikaner life. It epitomised a certain approach to life; it became synonymous with the particular brand of machismo associated with the Afrikaner male. When democracy arrived in 1994, Afrikaners had to adapt more than their English-speaking compatriots, who had wider options when it came to emigration. Afrikaner privileges were eroded, their schools integrated, their sense of personal security challenged, their destiny questioned. But rugby remained a constant - the one part of life that could still bind and give hope. And there was a reluctance to share it.

Ironically, rugby is also a game with deep roots in black South Africa. For several decades rugby has been the number one sport among Africans in the Eastern Cape, with strong bases in the so-called coloured townships of Cape Town and Johannesburg. In apartheid days, black players had two choices: either collaborate by playing for teams approved by the white establishment, or play within leagues sanctioned by the anti-apartheid South African Council on Sport, whose lack of fields, facilities and expertise made for a relatively low level of competition. Not a brilliant choice, but at least there were black players out there, and when apartheid crumbled, it should, on paper, have been a fairly simple task to seek out young black talent to improve that portrait of an almost all-white team in a country that is 78% black African (and that figure does not include Asian and mixed-race Africans). Yet it never happened. It turns out - as South Africa has learned in so many arenas - that previously racist institutions can be difficult to change. Instead, most of the black players who emerged were products of elite schools, and they were a rarity who seldom rose beyond the provincial shallows.

While it would easy to blame the likes of Jake White, the Springbok coach, for not including more black players, the fact is that if the team is chosen on merit alone, there just is not, for whatever reasons, the talent available. Among the black potentials, only Habana and his fellow winger, the former Cape gang-member JP Pietersen, were deemed worthy of the final cut - and it is also worth mentioning that in old apartheid parlance, Habana and Pietersen are "coloured", rather than black. In South Africa, this has real significance: there are still no players coming from the most oppressed sections of South African society.

And yet, for all this, there is a different feel about the 2007 squad from the squad of 1995. Perhaps it is just the gusto of their national anthem singing, the deep sense of camaraderie, the absence of any obvious racists among them, and, dammit, the way they play: so much more expansive and creative than the old days. It is hard not to get ecstatic about the play-making brilliance of Fourie Du Preez and those breathtaking Habana runs.

In the late 1990s, South Africa's finance minister happily announced he would be backing the All Blacks against the Boks. Today, the deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, cracks jokes with the team and they all laugh along with her. Maybe something really has changed.

I did an entirely unscientific vox pop of black South African friends yesterday and every one of them said they would be yelling for the Boks. One of these black friends, admittedly from rugby-mad Port Elizabeth, gushed: "People everywhere are wearing the green and gold jerseys - even the workers in the garage - and the shebeens are screening the matches. Everyone in the country supports them - but we just wish they could find a few more black players."

Come Saturday, I will be hoping the South Africans do the double on the English. And then? It will be time for the politicians and their move to compulsory quotas to do what 15 years of voluntarism have failed to achieve - a South African team that reflects the new South Africa.


October 16, 2007 9:35 AM

I was in a Tesco supermarket in Dublin yesterday and saw a black woman with her approx 6 year old son, both wearing the green and gold shirt. They may be black and they may have left South Africa but they obviously support the Boks.


October 16, 2007 9:49 AM

When I was about three quarters of the way through the SA half of the article I was reading it with a heavy heart. I have a south african girlfriend and some good south african mates and
I thought there's no way i can forward this article as it's 'support south african rugby and you support the old regime' but thankfully I was wrong, OK so the vast majority of the team are white but they're in the final and I think it's an opportunity for South Africa to do what the article from the English perspective allured to, which is unite behind your team. I am going to be far more magnaminous in defeat if we loose on Saturday (yes I'm English on Saturday, not even British ;), 'cause I get the impression that regardless of race or colour the team will be supported by South Africa as a nation and for that I can bear to loose. Just.


October 16, 2007 10:02 AM

The scribe better get his facts right before he gets dragged into court. It was in fact Markgraaf who picked Henry Tromp (late 1996) - he never played under Carel Du Plessis.

Also, but not as serious, the former gang member is Ashwin Willemse, our star player in 2003 WC, just returned from injury but in the current


October 16, 2007 10:02 AM

Jingoism dressed up as serious socio-political analysis - this is more pernicious even than the bare-faced tabloid xenophobia that inevitably rears its head alongside big sporting occasions in this country on account of it's creeping nature and implied tone of authority.

OK certain areas of South African society have a long way to go but of course they do it's a long way back from apartheid - this article says nothing to me about that.

Ask yourself. Do you think this 'analysis' of the SA team would would have been done if they weren't playing England in the final? No.

Absolute disgrace playing the 'South Africans are still racists' card. Absolute disgrace.

And while I'm at it - England team as some kind of shining beacon of society's inclusiveness. Please. OK there are a couple of players who don't come via the classic middle class privelege route but trying to dress an Ampleforth pupil up as some kind of Italian ice cream peddler's underpriveleged son is laughable. Paul Sackey may be of Ghanaian ethnicity but it doesn't sound that he exactly came up the hard way having gone to a traditional rugby school and selling exotic cars to multimillionaires hardly puts him in the man of the people bracket. What do you think he has in common with most first generation West African britons? Well there's one obvious thing....

Jason Robinson is the exception but what talent - the guy would be accepted in any company for what he brings and the way he comports himself. This is no criticism of the guys in the team, they work hard and they are exceptionally talented and - it turns out - have an incredible depth of character - but they absolutely do not represent what this article is claiming.

Er, and the bit about the token black guy on the SA wing because he's quick. Bryan Habana! The guy would walk into any rugby team on earth.

OK it's a big game but lets keep the buildup honest at least.


October 16, 2007 10:18 AM

Gavin Evans may be entitled to his opinions, but the fabrication of facts is a doubtful way of gathering support for a conceited argument.

Henry Tromp was never jailed for beating a black worker to death; he was acquited of the charge -- as South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel discovered when he supported the All Blacks against the Springboks on the same fallacious assumption.

JP Pietersen should take Mr Evans to court for lible for calling him an ex-gang member. Pietersen is an upright young man with an unblemished past who recently finished school. Mr Evans is confusing him with Ashton Willemse. The only factor the two have in common is that both are "coloureds".

I remember working (as political correspondent) with Gavin Evans at the Mail & Guardian BEFORE apartheid was abolished. He constantly addressed me as "Jan", the most common Afrikaans name, even though my name is Chris. It seems he is still suffering from the same habit -- finding it difficult to distinguish between individual Afrikaners and coloureds. After all, they all look alike, don't they?

Mr Evans should rather support England. That is the (white) country in which he prefered to live since apartheid was abolished. The white Springboks are all committed to living in South Africa under a black-dominated ANC government. Mr Evans seemingly not.

Frankly, we want neither his arrogant advice nor his support.


October 16, 2007 10:48 AM

As other commenters have noted, South Africa is coming from a different history and the way the headline, subhead and comparison is set up doesn't feel particularly neutral or fair.

My personal view is that the symbolism of the Springboks is so important to the country that quotas are probably unavoidable. If the team wasn't of such significance to the country you could argue that sport should be free of politics, but they seem too closely woven into the national identity for that to be realistic.

However, I haven't spent that much time in SA, so I couldn't claim any great precedence for that view.


October 16, 2007 11:09 AM

I'm not sure how often you are in South Africa these days but what is and has gone on there is nothing short of modern day miracle. This Springbok team are the first in years to seem genuinely relaxed, focused, united and completely without any trace of race consciousness. They are reflective of the vast majority of South Africans who now live and work every day in that complex but ever hopeful country. Like all South Africans they want to win this tournament and make the WHOLE country proud of them. Race and identity are still the two biggest elephants in the global room but it is to South Africa that the world should look for fresh ideas, not as as a constant dustbin to pluck out tired and over-trodden stories about racism and strife. Yes Gavin, things really have changed. Now let the team get on with winning this game.


October 16, 2007 11:13 AM

i was astonished to read the second part of this article. it simply does not tally with my experiences of south africa.

aside from the obvious factual errors which others have pointed out, i found some other areas of concern. mr evans asserts that:

"For several decades rugby has been the number one sport among Africans in the Eastern Cape, with strong bases in the so-called coloured townships of Cape Town and Johannesburg."

my wife is from East London (in the Eastern Cape). i have friends stretching from Durban to Plettenberg. and this is genuinely the first time i have ever heard rugby referred to as the 'number one sport among Africans in the Eastern Cape'. i cannot imagine that this is so.

in addition, Johannesburg and Capetown are clearly not part of the Eastern Cape - what with Joburg being Central and Capetown being, erm, West.

furthermore, i would be most interested to hear Mr Evans explain - or defend - his choice of words regarding townships. what is 'so-called' about 'coloured townships' in either city?

a little further on comes another troubling assertion:

"it is also worth mentioning that in old apartheid parlance, Habana and Pietersen are "coloured", rather than black. In South Africa, this has real significance: there are still no players coming from the most oppressed sections of South African society"

since institutional apartheid is something of the past, is Mr Evans claiming that the coloured population have an easy life? that they are not 'oppressed', or at least not as meaningfully as the black population?


October 16, 2007 11:24 AM

Your piece shows a distinctly arrogant British (perhaps more specifically English) misunderstanding of South Africa favoured by mollycoddled first world journalist who feel they are somehow in a position to be the moral commentators on the world's injustices.

Work is being done and paid for in blood by the people on the ground trying to remedy the countries inequalities and social problems. The fact that the national rugby team is mostly white and the national soccer team is mostly black is neither here nor there when the real issues are trying to house and feed the disenfranchised.


October 16, 2007 11:38 AM

...I'm taking the bait: Why should it be of any importance whatsoever whether Mr Gavin Evans supports South Africa or not? I'd rather black compatriots support the Springboks. That seems to be the case, judged by a "vox pops" insert on last night's SABC TV News bulletin. (And the SABC's biases are well known.)

The diversity of opinions in England would have been better served by an piece written by a black South African rather than by a priveleged whitey who prefers life in the First World to living in a majority-ruled African country. Gavin Evans is not the only person who got a few klappe from heavy-handed security branch members in the previous dispensation; some of us have made peace with that part of our past and are involved in day-to-day living in South Africa.

Mr Evans' opinions on Liverpool and Arsenal would be more relevant. Who cares one Springbok drol about who and what he supports?

Originally uploaded by fabdany.


October 16, 2007 11:40 AM

Gavin Evans,

What a plonker you are,
two wrongs will never make a right and I am amused at the fact that you can't wait for a new form of racism to be enforced. You rebuild from the ground up, no quick fixes, 14 years are nothing!

I would like to know how you would feel if you where at the top of your sport, the best of the best. You worked long hard hours, suffered blood sweat and tears to be where you are, and then someone tells you sorry mate too white, black, blue whatever.
It was wrong then and it will be wrong in the future.

Our schools are now integrated, no more special treatment for this colour or that, and in time, if a white kid can make it to the Bok team then so can a black kid. Go to Loftus and be amazed at a crowd that would cheer the roof off for anyone scoring a try in a blue jersey!

Mind your own back yard Gavin, and we will mind ours!


October 16, 2007 11:51 AM

When I read the article six hours ago it made me cross but now I just find it funny. Being lectured in the Grauniad by a 'South African sports writer' (sic) on the continuation of racism in post-apartheid South Africa reaches the heights of farce when he can't tell one Springbok of colour from another. Maybe they all look the same to him. Especially when (see GE's web pages)he claims to teach would-be journalists and sub editors (does he lecture on accuracy and importance of checking?)and keep a foothold in Cape Town (a handful of kilometres from where JPP and AW grew up). Memo to Grauniad: if you are going to outsource stuff to people who claim to have local knowledge then next time make sure you get the real thing. Memo to GE: have a good look in the mirror.


October 16, 2007 11:58 AM

There was a stage when people from Mr Evans' kin controlled not only the South African economy, but 80% of the local Stock Market. They are still, in terms of numbers, over-represented in every sphere of public life, including government and the economy.

Afrikaners are an easy target. They live and breath rugby from an early age. That's why they are succesfull players of the game.

To ask that the Evans' participation in public institutions and the economy be proportionate to their numbers is immediately construed as anti- the S-word. On what moral grounds should Afrikaners (and whites in general) be weaned from a game in which they currently excel?


October 16, 2007 12:25 PM

Gavin: I remember well your time on the Mail & Guardian. I enjoyed your writing. My favourite was probably your defence of boxing as a legitimate working class pursuit, particularly on a publication staffed so heavily by more-left-than-thou vanguard-of-the-revolution types.

However, you've been gone a while and you're out of touch not in big obvious ways, but in terms of being able to recognise the shifts in mood, thinking and the way ordinary people interact. Either that, or when you are here you remain stuck in the same tight circle of the self-righteous as before.

It's not about dramatic steps, it's about a gradual blunting of sharp edges and softening of devoutly held ideologies. I've remarked before on another thread that where we've got to is imperfect, incomplete and occasionally traumatic. But it IS different and it's just not the same world you're portraying, however much you like to think you're in touch with what's happening here.

Like the struggle heroes who can't stop fighting the old wars, you need to move on from this kind of simplistic setting up of straw men only to gush with support for the Boks because, implicit in your piece, some black guys gave you permission. If you're still in touch with the person who is now editor of your old employer, you might recognise another one who thinks she's fighting yesterday's battles: Unable to recognise her own status as a beneficiary of affirmative action, she supports intensification of the policy - occasionally failing to disguise her hatred of white males

If you ask people directly, they're either strongly opposed to affirmative action, or they're in favour of it but deny that they are a beneficiary of it. If you live with it in practice, in business, the reality is very different and much more mixed. The people making the exceptions to affirmative recruitment rules are increasingly black - in my personal experience. Representivity is still important, but merit, skill and competence are gradually making a comeback.


October 16, 2007 12:40 PM

Dear Sir,
Might I suggest that you visit Ladbrokes and place some money on the South African team winning the IRB World Cup. If England win, at least you will be able to regain some of your dignity with claims of impartiality.

If South Africa win, you'll be able to afford to have your foot surgically removed from your mouth.

Please excuse me for now, I have to go and light the cross on my lawn and wash my swastikas in time for Saturday night.


October 16, 2007 12:47 PM

For new readers, the story so far. The Grauniad has deployed its own Eng-ER-LAND!! psy/ops team to compete with the redtops and the Times ahead of the final, (an even more rancid unit than the competition for being dollied up in 'progressive' sloganthink about race and class) .... but all they could get was cannon fodder as inept and professionally incompetent (research, analysis, on-the-ground-information, fact checking)as Richard Williams and Gavin Evans ..... now read on (or back).


October 16, 2007 12:53 PM

Much as I hated Apartheid and acknowledge the need of redressing balances in South African education and employment, I feel the prospective introduction of quotas in the Springbok team will be deeply counter-productive.

There are talented black South African players coming through and you can see them in the Sevens side, but to suddenly declare that 10 of the 15 shall be black leaves me wondering where the hell are they going to find 10 test standard black players, especially in the forwards? They are going to have to play the All Blacks 2-3 times a year and will be in severe danger of enormous, disheartening thrashings.

The fact is, white South Africans are immersed in rugby from birth, in the same way New Zealanders (of all colours) are. By effectively excluding a huge proprtion of them from the pinnacle of the sport, all that talent and knowledge will (and is) go abroad, leaving a black population who are not yet immersed in the sport and do not yet have a deep knowledge of the game.

This change has to be effected from the grassroots up and even if it takes 20 years, the long hard road is always better than the easy political fix.


October 16, 2007 12:57 PM

Please would the editors of Mail & Guardian, remove this racist and provocative drivel writer Gavin Evans from the list of correspondents, and the article from this website. As a rugby player of colour, I demand an apology.


October 16, 2007 1:22 PM

Leftiebeard has beaten me to it - my thoughts summed up in a couple of trenchant sentences. This sort of drivel should be left behind in the sixth form. The Guardian's blogs increasingly seem to be infantilising the whole enterprise. It's depressingly predictable and predictably depressing.

And I would bet my right nut that the majority of readers of this shite are white and middle-class. Self-loathing is the prerogative of the privileged, and this website (and increasingly - and tragically - the paper which bears its name) have turned it into an artform.


October 16, 2007 2:46 PM

Gavin Evans' obvious dislike of Afrikaners devalues what could have been an illuminating article on the subject of political interference in sport. SA Rugby has opened up its outreach programmes to all sections of South African society but results won't be achieved overnight.

At present the standard of Rugby is higher in Afrikaner communities than in Black or Coloured ones so its unsurprising that the majority of players are white especially when also combined with the longer traditions of Rugby in Afrikaner communities.

As Rugby interest grows in non-white SA society the players will come to prominence and they will compete with whites on a meritocratic basis and not on some crass patronising quota system promulgated by the likes of Gavin Evans and his politician mates.

Gavin Evans cherry-picks some racial issues (some factually dubious if a response upthread is accurate) from the past to ground his view that one form of racism should replace another. The real dividers in SA society are the Gavin Evanses of this world and not the white, black and coloured players building a succesful sport through their dedication and effort.


October 16, 2007 2:53 PM

My view on this is that "of course rugby is the game of the priveliged classes - and it doesn't really matter very much at all".

But skesteve's figures are interesting.

Basically it seems to me that the two teams are almost exactly equally representative in some ways [i know that one has a history of apartheid etc ect but bear with me].

According to the internet:

(a) 6.6% of kids in the uk are privately educated (see the table in; and
(b) 9.2% of south africans are white (see

So in a 22-man rugby squad you'd expect, if teams were truly representative of a country's demographics:

(a) 1.45 privately educated players in the england squad; and
(b) 2.02 white players in the SAF squad.

what we actually have according to skesteve is:

(a) 14 privately educated players in the england squad; and
(b) 20 [this is right, yes?] white players in the SAF squad/

So the ratio of actual priveliged players to the expected number if the squads were representative is:

(a) 9.64 for england; and
(b) 9.88 for south africa.

so, well, there's something like a tenfold bias towards the priveliged minority in both cases. this won't come as any sort of surprise to anyone who has the slightest familiarity with the game in either country.

and... my question is still "so what"?


October 16, 2007 3:04 PM

In his article Gavin Evans advocates racial discrimination against white South Africans. I am surprised and disappointed that the Guardian, which should know better, has chosen to publish what can only be described as instinctive (and deeply unreflective) racism. Is the Guardian's position really that racism is unacceptable; except when it is directed against a morally unpopular minority?


October 16, 2007 3:57 PM

So, the rainbow nation has a cloudy sky while multicultural Blighty hasn't joined all the dots yet? Hmmm. Quelle surprise!


October 16, 2007 6:13 PM

This is a lowpoint. It's beneath the dignity of the Guardian, or it should be. For shame.

For all the sledging that goes on and the lines that have been crossed (the rumours about O'Gara and his wife etc.) this is a bridge too far. There are no excuses for English media attacking the inclusiveness of the SA team to stoke the flames before an event of this magnitude. Is the intent to provoke the Springboks so that England receive their comeuppance.

Can we stick to the rugby and leave the racial stereotyping and ill-formed rants behind.


October 16, 2007 6:21 PM

This happens every time England, AUS or NZ play SA: their media finds something about race to bring up because, well, that's a synonym for SA and you cant do a movie, write a book or turn out for sport without that theme. And it can proves highly distracting.

So, good, anticipated gutter journo tactic ahead of the game, but I think this team has the nous to shake it off. Its a weak article, anyway, easily attacked.

Your reasoning is that Catt, Rathbone, KP, Strauss have left the Rainbow Nation and gone to holy England thereby making them just and righteous? You have some players of colour and that exonerates the colonial legacy?

The SA coach job is highly sensitive, you cannot pick your best team, and the reverse is not true viz. there are no quotas in place for those of Indian, coloured or white descent to be pushed into traditionally black sports.

When apartheid SA booted england out of Africa by declaring a Republic, that was 1961: 46 short years ago. Those white strips your sportsmen wear do not declare the cleanliness of your socio-geo-political consciences.


October 16, 2007 6:33 PM

One thing that most people keep overlooking with the whole race issue in South African rugby is the simple fact of genetics.
People look at American football and basketball and how they are dominated by black players and automatically assumed that because South African rugby is not that is must be due to racism.
However, American blacks' ancestors' are mostly from West Africa and anyone that have seen the numbers from Nigeria, Ghana, etc in the Olympic 100m finals will know West Africans are fast. However most black South Africans' forefathers came from East Africa - Kenya, Ethopia, etc - more known for their marathon runners than speedfreaks. This explains why SA has a gold medalist in the Olympic marathon, but the South African 100m record is still held by a white man.

South African sport scientist have predicted that the next 100m record holder will probably be from the coloured community because their ancestors also share in the West African gene.

So although history does play a role in the make-up of the current SA team, I think, most has to do with the simple facts of DNA that no quota system will ever change.


October 16, 2007 8:46 PM

Yes, South Africans remember Gavin Evans in his noble days during the apartheid struggle. Seems he left the country years back for First World comforts 'up north' (as so many of that crowd did) and is now out of touch with what's really going down in SA, as others on this thread have pointed out. In particular, his factually incorrect smear about Pietersen and his strange comments about Eastern Cape 'black rugby' annoyed me. Gavin, if you don't live in South Africa, where people are dealing hands-on with difficult real-time issues of social transformation, I would advise you to think and fact-check before you opine from your English armchair.


October 16, 2007 8:49 PM

While Mr Evans is entitled to his opinion as regards the failings of South African society in developing a team he believes truly represents that country, I find it unfortunate that he should talk up (in Jingoistic fashion) the values of a society that helped create the problems South Africans face in the post-apartheid era. The balanced approach of Donald McRae in his interview of Jake White (Oct. 16) Rob Kitson's interview of Bryan Habana (Oct. 16) and Richard Williams in his praise of French efforts to stage a wonderful world cup (also Oct. 16)contrasts sharply with the tone and content of Mr Evans' position.
I suggest that we should all be celebrating the achievements of the best players each country had to offer in reaching the final of their chosen sport this year, not prescribing a method to ensure that South Africa never again challenges the "superior" english way of doing things.
After all, we're all the same, aren't we?

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Mike said...

Wow, GE's article surely did cause a firestorm of reaction. What is actually most encouraging for me is the quality in content of most of the comments on this article.

What is a fact however, is that we're going to have to find a way to pull more black South Africans into rugby. Very few black schools engage in the game. The only viable strategy in the long term is to change this. If we can manage it we will probably end up with an even stronger (& representative) Springbok squad. If not, we may end up with a token black squad and no respect on the world stage.

The other alternative is to accept the status quo - that most South Africans playing rugby are white and that the national team will therefor always have a majority of white players - but that will be disappointing.

Wessel said...

Mike, why is it unacceptable and considered racism when the English are unhappy with their football team because it is not representative, but when that happens in South Africa its acceptable?

You are right schooling is part the answer. Rugby has to be taught from a young age to make a real difference.

But I'm sad to say there's another factor - an elephant in the room - that nobody is talking about: Black South Africans are small. And that's a huge problem, especially in the foward pack.

We don't just need schooling, but something allot more ambitious: we need intermarrying between black and white.