SA rugby in ‘crisis’, warns former Bok lock De Klerk

Retired rugby player and administrator Kevin de Klerk. Picture: Gallo Images

South African rugby is facing its biggest challenges in decades, former Golden Lions president Kevin de Klerk believes.

Looking back nearly 50 years, to the Springbok team’s 3-0 series defeat against the 1974 British Lions and the lengthy isolation period which followed due to the international reaction to apartheid rule, former Springbok forward and retired administrator Kevin de Klerk feels the sport is experiencing an even bigger crisis due to the far-reaching effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are definitely in an even bigger crisis. This unknown Covid-19 enemy has greatly disrupted our cards,” said De Klerk, a former Bok lock who played against the ’74 Lions.

“I am personally very concerned about what’s happening in our country and the sport. Financially it’s a big issue, how to keep everything above water.”

While the Springboks were set to return to action in the Rugby Championship in November, it was still unclear when domestic action would resume, leaving the sport in a state of uncertainty.

“I don’t know how patient the sponsors will remain,” De Klerk said.

“There will have to be some source of income soon because from that you can at least pay your players and take care of the running costs of our unions on a day-to-day basis.”

De Klerk also expressed concern that the ongoing debate around the Black Lives Matter movement was causing potential division in SA sport.

Many current and former athletes and federations had announced their support for BLM, with the long-running controversy around transformation in sport being reignited as black athletes continued to claim they were being marginalised 30 years after unity.

Some individuals had criticised the movement, however, alleging that other issues apparently affecting SA minorities were being ignored.

“The guys who are for it (BLM) have a point of view and the people against it have another take on it, and I think they address the issue in their own way,” De Klerk said.

“I do believe we are all rugby and sport people, and it brings a lot of joy to our lives, so hopefully the parties can get together and sort out a suitable solution for everyone involved.”

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