• April 21st, 2019
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Naas Botha & the Springbok Fable


The South African sports fraud is flaunted and celebrated every time Naas Botha appears on television. Botha, who is a celebrated apartheid Springbok, now unleashes his debatable rugby knowledge on the rugby public and gets away with the most insensitive comments and quips. Recently, following the Springboks 29 - 15 defeat to the All Blacks in Auckland, Botha (and Mallet mind you), went off on the most distasteful rant, lamenting an opportunity squandered i.e. The Springboks had the game in the bag, had it not been for the referee. What utter hogwash. Between 1992 (the year of South Africa’s readmission to test rugby) and present, the Springboks have faced the All Blacks 49 times, winning only 14! They have been on the receiving end 34 times!, with a solitary draw. The Springboks first victory against the All Blacks since readmission, was in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final, and even that historic win is clouded and murky, with allegations of food poisoning (remember Zinzan Brooke running off the field during play?). And the allegations are given further credence in Debora Patta’s book “One Step Behind Mandela”, in which chief security liaison for the All Blacks, Rory Steyn confirms that the All Blacks were poisoned two days before the final! Botha’s primary lament two weeks ago was in memory of the 1981 apartheid Springbok tour to New Zealand and in particular the deciding test at Eden Park in Auckland on September 12, 1981 (the 4th anniversary of Steve Biko’s death), which the apartheid Springboks ultimately lost. The match which was played under extreme conditions, with a flower-bomb dive-bombing light aircraft buzzing over the playing field (All Blacks prop Gary Knight was actually felled by a flower bomb during the test), ensuring that the match was not played under normal conditions. In his article “A Bizarre Occasion”, Paul Dobson says: “There are still today people in South Africa who do not like Nelson Mandela but who would be far happier seeing him walk down a Pretoria street than Clive Norling, referee of that third test who made two decisions deep in injury time which cost South Africa a deserved share of that bizarre match.” Dan Retief, in an article entitled ‘The Chance to Wear Our Beloved Springbok Colours’ (Rand Daily Mail 1981,1983 - South African Dispatches, Jennifer Crwys Williams) records that on the way back from New Zealand, Botha was moved to say: “If only we had Morné (Du Plessis) with us. I am sure we would not have had half the trouble we ran into and on top of it we would have won all three tests.” Winning, and winning at all costs has always been the primary focus of the South African rugby Springbok - The notion of fair play has never been a Springbok strong point. The 1981 apartheid Springbok tour, which is etched in Botha’s mind (all for the wrong reasons), was a tour that should never have been undertaken. It rent New Zealand society in two, split families and communities along racial, social and ideological lines – the effects of which are still felt in New Zealand today. It was a tour, which brought New Zealand to the brink of Civil War and yet Naas Botha’s concern remains the lost test series. Absolutely shameful!  It should (always) be remembered that the Springboks have always played their test matches apart from the chaos that reigns outside of the coliseums and both the apartheid Springboks, and the post apartheid Springboks have never flinched in the face of the brutal nature of South African society. Apartheid Springboks, such as Botha and company serve no real purpose in the ‘Nation Building’ cause, except to reinforce apartheid ideologies through sport, specifically rugby. T he media, and in this case Supersport, also contributes immensely to the misinformation of the South African rugby loving public, and this too needs closer examination. In the May 2012 edition of SA Sports Illustrated, Hugh Bladen, in an interview with Schalk Jonker, relates how he was convinced to move to Supersport by both Louis Luyt & Russel McMillan in mid 1994 – A full year before the 1995 Rugby World Cup tournament! At that time plans had already been put in place to sell the Springboks to Rupert Murdoch. SARFU’s share of the US$500 million windfall, was to be used ‘for development purposes’ according to Louis Luyt (See ‘A Deal to Shake the World - The Independent on Sunday, June 25, 1995, Chris Rea), but suddenly in the wake of the World Cup victory, SARFU found that they had to pay professional salaries to Pienaar & Co – at the same rate of recompense as their international counterparts! Development thus receded as a priority, and all that mattered was the continued winning ways of the Springboks! Today, we face deep and severe social problems in this country, recording annual murders of more than 16 000 p/a. Rape, which is the scourge of the country, comes in at annual figures of between 60 000 to 70 000, and still, despite all of this, we see apartheid beneficiaries dictating the entry requirements into the ‘New’ South Africa. Listening to the inane comments by apartheid Springbok, Botha, and his regurgitation of the 1981 test series against the All Blacks, shows just how far we have regressed as a nation. The complete disregard for society as displayed by the 1981 apartheid Springboks, was recently showcased when the post apartheid Springboks casually dismissed the Marikana massacre, by not acknowledging it without observing a moments silence (August 18, 2012), and this lack of acknowledgment was repeated at the Nelson Mandela Sports and Culture Day of August 17, 2013. It should be remembered that this is the same band of brothers who wore “justice for Bakkies” armbands in 2009, defying IRB rules against on-field protests. Our commentators, however, condone everything in the name of the Springbok. Due consideration to issues of decency, normalcy including social justice on and off the field of play, only come into contention when these issues affect the performances of the Springboks. We need to change this and move forward, and beyond the pale of apartheid sport, which commentators such as Naas Botha and Nick Mallet represent. It is time for unheard voices to come to the fore, and with the induction of so many former nonracial greats into the South African Rugby Experience, what better time than now to rid ourselves of these voices from the past, and get alternate voices from the past. Supersport should step up to the plate, and get rid of Botha & company, and bring in some new blood. As with the Springbok, which represents the continuity of apartheid in sport, so too, do these voices, which are so myopic in their outlook, represent continuity in the ideology of this symbol of exclusion - the rugby Springbok!
New Era Reporter
2018-06-01 12:28:07 10 months ago

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