Embrace the Boks – and all the truths

Allister Coetzee. Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

We cannot retreat to the all-white laager mentality that was Springbok rugby in the dark days of apartheid. That would be to devalue all that our still fragile democracy represents.

It is stating the blindingly obvious to say that Springbok rugby takes the opening step into a new era when the national team meet Ireland in the first Test of a three-match series at Newlands today.

It has a new coach in Allister Coetzee at the helm, a new captain in Adriaan Strauss calling the shots on the field and a seemingly new thrust towards getting the balance of demographics within the team the politicians demand.

While it cannot be argued that there is a very valid imperative for South African rugby to adapt to the realisation that the game has moved on apace since this country recorded the second of two World Cup wins in Paris nearly a decade ago – and to accept that more and more black players of world class are beginning to emerge – the words “quota players” still carry a somewhat unsavoury cachet.

We cannot retreat to the all-white laager mentality that was Springbok rugby in the dark days of apartheid. That would be to devalue all that our still fragile democracy represents to the majority of our citizens.

Transformation is a reality, which is not about to go away, nor should it. Neither can we have the arrogance to continue in the nihilistic misconception that only white players are worthy of wearing the globally revered green and gold of the Springboks.

That would be to deny a growing host of talented players of colour the chance to realise the schoolyard dreams they share with their white counterparts. But it is equally true that sporting talent cannot be legislated for; it is partially innate and can only be made to flourish by supplying the infrastructure to give it roots and personal sweat and sacrifice to allow it to bloom.

The Newlands Test offers the ideal opportunity for all South Africans to embrace these truths.



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