The Black First Land First Movement calls on all black South Africans (The so called Black Africans, the so called Coloureds and the so called Indians) to show their disgust at the lack of transformation 21 years after the advent of democracy in South Africa by boycotting the untransformed Springboks. We call on black people of this country not to compromise on racism masquerading as nationhood and patriotism by supporting an untransformed springboks.
We call on black people to form their own black rugby national team in defiance to the status quo and to ensure that deserving black players also do play at the highest level.
Open up the franchises by extending the number or use clubs not franchises
Black people of South Africa have had enough of the racist agenda that drives all levels of rugby in South Africa. We saw the furore with which the springboksquad was received this year from the public, pro-transformation forces and even black players who decided to risk their careers by taking action. But whenever these frustrations rise they are met by a bigger resistance from those who benefit from this flawed system, white people. Then the government as the protector of white privileged does as it always does; it goes back to black people and ask them to be the ones who bend. Like when blacks demand a removal of a mere statue whites refuse and blacks are asked to be the ones who must accept and live with the evils of the past staring at them. This is the same attitude behind the lack of change in rugby compared to soccer for example. If you look in the difference between soccer and rugby in this country you will begin to see how a trick was played on our leaders in the negotiation that led to the formation of SARFU 1992. In these negotiation, the white rugby authorities brought their 1976 strategy into action. The strategy to integrate the Bantu blacks and coloured unions into their leagues. As feeders into the white leagues and with a sub-union status feeding white unions. Also, Black rugby players were to be included into the white springboks. This arrangement had earlier been viewed as a front to appease international bodies as blacks continued to demand total change. The 1992 hoax recognised the existing rugby leagues and the springboks as the only legitimate entities of national rugby and blacks had to make their way into the ranks of these bodies. This was impossible to achieve in 1976 as it has proven to be today. To be able to see the lack of change we have to look at Simon Pinsky’ article on the subject of rugby in South Africa
‘Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century rugby and the Springbok symbol became linked to Afrikaner nationalism and politics. Afrikaners viewed the success of the Springboks in international test play as a reflection of their accomplishments as a civilization. The Afrikaner love of the team enabled former players to use their sporting stature to launch into politics, and nearly all former Springboks supported the National Party – the eventual architects of apartheid.’ (Simon Pinsky, early history of rugby in South Africa)
Pinsky even argued that the segregation in rugby was enforced through starving our people of necessary equipment to enable them to progress to as far as they can with their careers he wrote:
“Segregation along racial boundaries denied Black South Africans access to the top level facilities and training that would enable them to represent South Africa in a Springbok jersey. This effect was surely intentional. The National Party envisioned the Springbok symbol as a representation of the values and characteristics of the Afrikaner people. In their minds allowing Black players to don the sacred jersey was a step toward the erosion of these values. The Springbok had come to symbolize more than rugby excellence to the hard-line Afrikaner – it had come to symbolize racial superiority.”
The points above nullify the argument often made by those who are opposed to transformation that there are no black players to choose from. The mere fact that you say there are no players (which is total nonsense) only seeks to highlight the nature of deep racism entrenched in rugby to deny black players the opportunity to rise and shine by starving them of necessary equipment, facilities and development. This is why white teams and white school have the best facilities and black ones continue to lack proper equipment. The Black players that are fortunate enough to thrive under those conditions are frustrated by being undermined at the highest level of rugby. They are benched, abused, and mocked as quota players. Of course like in 1976 the white authorities are not serious about change but merely to gain international recognition. They have measures in place to make sure they halt the influx of black players into these rugby leagues and springboks (read the article: The Secret Life of a Black Springbok).
One of the processes of maintaining white dominance and black segregation in rugby is the current franchise system. Because whites are a minority in South Africa they had to go with the franchise system to cater for the reality of white people. With a minimal number of franchises instead of many or clubs ensures that regions have enough pull of white players to choose from than opening it up like in soccer. It also ensure that the leagues are not overcrowded by black clubs which would be a majority if the system was to be opened up. Why does New Zealand, a country of just 4.5 million people have more professional clubs than South Africa (itm vs currie cup)? This is because the pull was concentrated in attracting the 5 million whites in South Africa. Even worse in this world cup, the springboks; a country of black majority has less black players (29 percent) than countries with white majority New Zealand (46 percent) and even Australia (35 percent). Only racism can be a contributor to such appalling numbers. We can’t claim whites of this country love rugby any more than whites of New Zealand unless they edge them over levels of racism. Also on the same breath, no one can claim Blacks in New Zealand are better than blacks in South Africa except in the area of facility they benefit equally or almost equally with their white counterparts. And as proved above they have more teams.
We are being kind in comparing SA to New Zealand because if we were to compare them to an African country or Fiji the results would even be more shameful. But they can’t even better New Zealand a country with awhite majority, it’s a disgrace. Again rugby has these problems because racists want it to have these problems. The controlled franchise system exist in rugby not soccer because they simply didn’t care about soccer as much as they do about rugby. When soccer was opened up for everyone black players flooded the leagues and national team so much so they couldn’t be any traces of racism there. Former white teams became black. But that couldn’t happen in rugby. They don’t want it to happen, why?
‘I don’t think that the Government could care less about such sports as cricket and soccer.
They don’t really mean much to the true Afrikaner. Therefore the expulsion of the country
from international competition doesn’t mean too much. But rugby is different. Rugby is the
Afrikaner’s second religion.’ (Middleton, 1976).
So that is what we were made to nurse as blacks: racism. An attitude that says if you are not white you can’t play rugby. The franchise system ensure that players are filtered into the system to avoid the influx. The current franchise system should end and/or clubs rugby be the order of the day with proper leagues made to cater for a population of 50 million people not 5 million. We have the whole plan on how the league could be formed.
To make sure the franchise system keep its segregation agenda you have white school rugby as its feeder. Again because of their minority status whites go to white schools and universities for talent not black schools, universities or clubs in the lower divisions which are dominate by blacks. Take Border Rugby for example, a union that had 17 black teams out of 20 with only 2 white teams and 1 multi-racial premier league teams. But for years border was dominated by white players who came from the two white teams and white schools and universities. The reason we don’t have the overflow of black players in the highest level is because only a few blacks go to these schools and universities. Also the reason to go to schools ensures that the same screening agenda is maintained and not a lot of black players are coming through the ranks as they would if talent scouting was done in black universities and professional black rugby clubs. Take the injustice that happened to the university of Fort Hare for example. Mike Stofile was involved in a campaign to include Fort Hare and other black universities in the white only varsity cup. Whites refused and instead established a lower division of the cup, the Varsity Shield. In this way black universities (with lesser resources and equipment) would forever languish in the lower divisions. Remember the varsity cup is where they also choose the players to maintain the franchise system.
The black players who went to cosatu demanding action and assistance cannot be blamed for doing so. But since cosatu went behind their backs and accepted the springbok squad together with government (they are thegovernment) they are contributors to lack of transformation. Those players should instead lobby for the establishment of the Black National Team as a form of defiance to the present predicament. The rebel black national team would put a shame to the current system and really highlight the plight of black players in SA to the public and really the whole world to see. A few black faces mean nothing to the transformation agenda, no more less than the participation of Errol Tobias in the springboks in the past was a farce. There are many rugby players languishing in the lower leagues that seek exposure. They should never be frustrated by being shunned by a racially composed team like the springboks but instead blacks should take pride in representing a non-racial side. Despite these challenges there are enough black players available to make up a squad that represent the people of South Africa. They are there but are not considered because they are black and racism dictates only a few blacks should be there.The BRT would expose them not to the racist but to the general public and as a rebel team. Would fill black players with a sense of pride to represent their people. And in that would happen blacks would boycott the springboks and support a true national rugby team.Black players in this country have played rugby since 1864, a period of over 151 years and have been excluded since. How far are we willing to tolerate racism? The only action for black players and advocates of rugby transformation is to shame racism. Let us establish a reflection of our country and see if the so called black government would reject it and choose racism over a true reflection of this country.
Everyone acknowledges the racism that drives rugby in South Africa but thus far we have implemented measures that only entrench racism. Think of a decision that was taken to give Cheeky Watson all powers to spearhead the formation a black rugby team that would compete in the carrie cup and super rugby. Instead, Watson brought another white team. The same mistake we did appointing Joe Slovo to represent our case to whites and he penned the Sunset Clauses. All this point to an action spearheaded by blacks themselves and not wait for another white messiah to solve our problems. We can’t leave it the untransformed Springboks to solve our problems for us. Let’s boycott the Springboks as a first form action; establish our black national team; dissolve the current franchise system and form proper club rugby league; then will transformation begin.
The current Springboks do no reflect us blacks. It is a team for white South Africa – protected and supported by the ANC. All symbols of colonialism and racism must fall! The white rugby team, 20 years after democracy, is an ideal insult to blacks. We support the Black Springboks who continue to be overlooked. We want a team that is a reflection of the black majority!
ISSUED BY THE BLACK FIRST LAND FIRST MOVEMENT
9 SEPTEMBER 2015
Black First Land First Mail: email@example.com