Letter: Racism behind uncertainty

Call our national rugby team the Springboks, Proteas or whatever, I will still support all our national teams as South Africa is my country.

The Springbok name until recently was the pride of our nation in rugby terms, having won two World cups and being feared by all teams, including the All Blacks. Not now though.

So why? Many reasons have been given, with many fingers pointed at individuals and administrative bodies. Here are my thoughts as a rugby-loving individual.

One of the greatest ever human beings ever born, Nelson Mandela, knew that rugby would unite black and white in South Africa as no other force would.

His appearance in Francois Pienaar’s number six jersey at the 1995 World Cup finals brought about the rainbow nation. Alas, the rainbow nation is no more.

Racism is rife in South Africa right now, from our politicians to members of society, be they white, black, coloured, Indian, etc. Racism in South Africa is rife. Our government of the day has done little to address the issue and, in particular, our minister of sport, Fikile Mbalula, is to blame.

Mbalula, along with his cohorts in other sporting bodies, failed to send white-dominated hockey teams, male and female, and netball teams to the Rio Olympics, despite them qualifying.

He has a personal issue, on Twitter, with a white javelin silver medallist who simply wanted to be paid what she was promised. Mbalula has made the statement that the national rugby team which goes to the 2019 World Cup, assuming we qualify, must be 50% black.

Mbalula fails to understand that there are many players of colour who are 100% Springbok material right now, but he is chasing away the white players to foreign shores as they are not sure of being in future national squads based on merit.

This year alone, 50 Craven Week players, still at school, have been signed up to play overseas. We have seen many South African players playing international rugby against the country of their birth.

We could end up playing against ourselves, so to speak. Springbok coach Allister Coetzee blames players for not following the game plan and for not being committed, then wishes he had done things differently.

Saru did not do Coetzee any favours by insisting that unqualified personnel were at his back. What could Mzwandile Stick as backline coach teach J P Pietersen, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, etc? Nothing! He was out of his depth from the word go.

But, the powers that be (Mbalula?) insisted on a representative coaching team. Had Coetzee been given the support staff he wanted, things may have been different.

So, he tried to win games with players beyond their sell-by-date and who knew that their captain would not be around after 2016 – clearly there was no unity in the change room.

Had Coetzee picked players, and a captain included, to build towards 2019, the rugby-loving public would have accepted the defeats that came with rebuilding.

Ask Jake White. Players like Bismarck du Plessis, Bakkies Botha and Francois Pienaar would never have allowed this disunity in the change room. Madiba would not have allowed it to fester to this point.