The Springboks, who were stunned in the opening Test by a spirited 14-man Irish team in Cape Town the previous week, bounced back to level the three-match series with a passionate display in the second half of the second Test at Ellis Park.
The introduction of several Lions players was largely credited for the change in fortune. The decider takes place in Port Elizabeth today, but the Boks will have more on their minds than just winning after Cosatu dropped a bombshell with allegations that some players were sabotaging the national rugby team. Although concerns regarding transformation in SA sport should never be taken lightly, this week’s claims from Cosatu that a group of white Springbok players want to see the integrated national team and their coach, Allister Coetzee, fail cannot be taken seriously.
“We should never underestimate the attitude of some rugby players and supporters, who are not supportive of this Springbok team and this transformation agenda,” said Cosatu Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich.
SA Rugby’s decision to offer a “no comment” to the whole fiasco was probably the best response. If these claims are to be taken seriously, then proof needs to be produced. Sure, the Springboks haven’t been at their best against Ireland, but to deliberately underperform would take an incredible effort.
Rugby is a team sport, so getting a number of players to not produce the goods intentionally would prove tricky. These players’ careers would also be on the line as average performances will result in them facing the axe. These arguments would only feature if Ehrenreich had a logical point.
Judge the Springboks on their results, don’t listen to someone who is trying to score political points. What the Springboks now need is for the nation to stand behind them and support them. It’s the least Coetzee and his players deserve.