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Die Bokke must get humiliated, for the good of this country

By Nduh Msibi

South Africa, so divided, yet so united. Thank you Springboks. Never has the country been so divided and all the while united over what it wants for its rugby team than at the present moment.

The problem with the current team is twofold, the lack of transformation and the approach of our coach. A number of people are unhappy with the lack of transformation in traditionally “white” sports. Then there are those who are purely unhappy with the playing style of the team and the coach’s approach, like his insistence on looking into old age homes for fresh talent.

All this dissatisfaction is vocalised at varying degrees. The perspectives can be broken down further. One side is that of people who are on that “angry but still patriotic” tip, in other words, “I hate this team but I still support them”. On the other side are the people whose level of anger has had them swear to support whatever team the Boks come up against.

AFP

AFP

I was on the fence, somewhat, with a combination of dissatisfaction about Heyneke Meyer’s tactics, as well as the lack of transformation. Nonetheless, neither dissatisfaction had me supporting the Japanese team on Saturday. That was, until those dying seconds. Somewhere between the 79th and 85th minute, I had reached the other side.

Thank you Japan, for making the decision that much easier.

This change is a culmination of it all: the tactics, the outdated players, the lack of transformation and being schooled by a brave rank-outsider nation. Japan deserved the win. South Africa deserves the harsh lesson.

Perhaps it is ironic that the team from the so-called “rainbow nation” lost to a Japanese side that was more diverse: an Asian team with white players and a black captain.

When Japan scored their try in the last seconds of the game, my stance became clear. The current Boks are not worth the support. They must lose. They must get humiliated. They must learn the tough way. If they do well in this competition, it will be a great injustice.

Any kind of success they manage will only have negative meanings. It would say that it is okay not to recognise young talent. That it is okay to bring back outdated players from retirement instead of building for the future. It would say it is okay to ignore the direction the game has taken. Worst of all, it would say it’s okay to keep “white” sports “white”.

When you watch your national team, it must unite you with those around you. We do not want to watch the “white Boks” or the “white Proteas” or the “black Bafana Bafana”, we want to watch South African teams. If we see a line-up and cannot identify with it — when there are other players who are worthy of selection — it becomes that much harder to support it. That said, do not misinterpret this as saying black people cannot support South Africa’s swimmers. No, unless there are black swimmers who are not given a chance, our white swimmers should and do get their rightful support.

It is said that sport has the power to unite, and indeed it does. Well right now the only unity that can be credited to the Boks is a united call for change — whatever that may mean for our colourful nation.

Nduh Msibi is a former chairperson of the Black Management Forum student chapter and an M Com maritime studies student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He writes in his personal capacity.

Image – South Africa’s captain and centre Jean de Villiers (3R) reacts after losing the Pool B match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Japan at the Brighton community stadium in Brighton, south east England on September 19, 2015. Japan won 34-32. (AFP)

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    • W Mulder

      I hope they win the cup.

    • http://www.hlagamediagroup.co.za/ Makate Rapulana

      I wish they drop out

    • Leon S.

      Nduh, I started off enjoying the article, but then you took it too far with this line: “They must get humiliated. They must learn the tough way.” What on earth did the Springbok rugby players do to you, that you want THEM to suffer? You seem to also forget the race of South Africa’s Minister of Sport, or the race of the head of SARU … don’t they deserve the suffering, for allowing this travesty over the past two and a half decades of democracy? According to SARU, there are very few international-calibre black rugby players in South Africa, so are you disagreeing with them on that assertion, or do you feel that South Africa should field a sub-standard squad just in order to make it more representative? We need to stop enforcing cookie-cutter quotas onto sport and the workplace: real transformation needs to come from the grass roots, not as a band-aid applied at the end through political intervention. For now, it’s the rugby world cup, and we need to field the BEST side possible (regardless of race). I’m also disappointed with the Springboks, but they learned their lesson and I believe they’ll give their all this Saturday … as their fellow countryman, I thank them for representing us and wish them well. Your fighting words aside, that’s where the short-term focus has to lie.

    • Dr Who

      Well, the boks have a way to go before joining the winning ways of Bafana Bafana. Give them time, they may well exceed expectations.

    • Morne Strydom

      Ok.. so lets then not mention keeping black sports black shall we( our now VERY infamous Bafana Bafana).. PLEASE .. just everybody get over this “white” sport thing… THAT as far as I am concerned.. is not the major issue here.. Our team was totally unprepared (from what it looked like) for what Japan came at us with.. What I do feel is that our persistence to always want to carry the ball with the forwards and never give our backline a running chance is much of our problem.

    • Isabella vd Westhuizen

      We need a New Zealand / Aussie coach who takes us into the new era of running the ball. We need some new young talent (white or black) I care less and we need to rethink how we play the game. Meyer needs to take his blue tinted glasses off
      The old Bulls way is unfortunately outdated.

    • Rusty Bedsprings

      Our Minister of Sport is responsible for the allocation of funds to grass roots sporting facilities. He is responsible for the growth of the sport in which ever population group he desires, but we all hope that his actions, and his facilities, find and nurture talents across the country across all population groups. The strength of the Boks in future years will depend on this.

      The coach of the Boks is responsible for picking the best talent available for this world cup. He reviews talent from all available sources though talent scouts, tips, watching games, and assessing players performance in training, etc. He is not responsible for the growth of the sport, nor grass roots development.

      I think there are two distinct topics being rolled into one in this article, with different people responsible for the different aspects.

      You are free to criticise the coach for his tactics and team selection. Many will. You are free to conclude that the team has too many old timers in their ranks. Many will agree with you. You are not free to criticise him for the state of transformation in South African Rugby. That is not his job.

    • http://www.waynecliffordbarker.co.za/ Wayne Clifford Barker

      Transformation needs to start at grass roots. You will just hurt the sport by forcing transformation from the top. It needs to filter through from school to province levels allowing the bok couch to select the best players regardless of colour. By starting at grass root level transformation at the high levels will happen automatically over 4 / 5 year period.

      On another note. I had the kicking rugby game the boks play. For god sale catch the ball and run. Only kick with purpose. Think hanneke meyer lacks imagination on his tactics

    • Nardu Malherbe

      Do you have a child, brother or any relation that actually plays well enough to make a career of rugby? If so has this person been denied a place in a team because they were non-white?
      If your answer is no to either question, I urge you to reserve your opinion.
      The captain of Japan is by no means black, he is polynesian – Your sense of entitlement and association in this regard is quite misguided
      Please look up Oregan Hoskins’ open letter recently written where he highlights SARU’s progress on transformation. You will be impressed – I know I was

    • Ike

      In summary: Over-the-hill white players are preferred instead of young white and black talent. The coach would feel vindicated if they do well. We all want boks to win, but don’t want to give the coach that satisfaction. He had 4 years to build depth, but even now does not know his best starting lineup. He must go.

    • Pierre Aycard

      “According to SARU, there are very few international-calibre black rugby players in South Africa”

      Which shows that the problem is not in the selection of White players, but in the training structures that do not allow young Black talents to reach the level they should reach. It’s a deep problem with training structures, with financial support for Black kids, with the lack of well-trained coaches at beginner’s level, and with the lack of clubs in Black locations.

    • john

      I have an idea, replace the entire team with 15 quota players and lets see how we’ll we do. At least then they cant play the racist card :)

    • Bobinatorz

      There are too many people who don’t understand sports, or the structures in our sports, or what it takes to develop, coach or play for a national team that think their opinions are the be-all and end-all. It has always been that way.

    • http://batman-news.com DavyH

      If the selection for the squad met with requirements (hint: it did), where’s the problem…. aside from flat-out poor selection of the elderly and infirm, that is.
      Perhaps you’d favour us with your wisdom and provide your team selection?

    • Godfrey Albertyn

      But we know that’s a lie from SARU. There are countless SuperRugby level black players who are good enough to play for the Boks, but the coach in his infinite wisdom preferred to leave at home.

    • RSA.MommaCyndi

      To be pedantic – the selectors decide who is in the team and who is not. The coach has only a small voice in that choice

    • Peter Win

      Seems like Bafana Bafana have been humiliated enough. When will they start to make inroads?

    • veda

      its too harsh

    • HughRobinson

      Oh what it is to be a closet racist carrying forward the pretence that their actions are for the good of the country. I should know what I am talking about because being white I have to be racist otherwise I do not understand the complexity of being black.