Bringing rugby racism into the open
Mail & Guardian
More than 25 years after the end of apartheid, South African rugby is still struggling with racism, said the Mail & Guardian. The national team, the Springboks, was banned from the sport’s first two World Cups, in 1987 and 1991, because of an international sports boycott of apartheid South Africa. The end of white minority rule allowed the team to play at the 1995 World Cup. Then–President Nelson Mandela cheered the nearly all-white team, but his blessing didn’t change rugby culture. Coach Andre Markgraaff had to resign two years later after calling new black rugby officials “f---ing kaffirs,” the N-word of South Africa. Fast-forward to today, and while the Springboks still have a mostly white lineup, they do have their first black captain. But not all is well in the game. One of South African rugby’s first black stars, Ashwin Willemse, who is now a sportscaster, walked off a TV set during a live postgame analysis last week, saying his two white co-anchors—former Bok coach Nick Mallett and former player Naas Botha—had “undermined” him on air for too long. The episode has exposed the resentment black players and fans feel at the sport’s culture of barely concealed prejudice. How long will rugby remain “at the center of a white nationalist identity”?