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.
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This change is a culmination of it all: the tactics, the outdated players, the lack of transformation and being schooled by a brave rank-outsider nation.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 That it is okay to bring back outdated players from retirement instead of building for the future.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)