Cape Town - The president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) has called on the sport to mobilise in support of the campaign to end xenophobic attacks on foreign residents.
Oregan Hoskins threw the weight of the sport into the public opposition to the outbreak of attacks in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg that have shocked South Africa and the global community.
"Rugby shares the horror and dismay that has greeted these horrific attacks on people whose only aim is to make a better life for themselves and their families in a country that is supposed to be a watchword for tolerance and freedom," said Hoskins.
"Rugby is not a political organisation, and we cannot solve these problems, but we can add our voice to the rest of civic South Africa who are appalled at the violence and lack of humanity that these attacks have betrayed.
"I would call on all those involved in rugby to make a stand in whatever small way they can to demonstrate that we abhor both the sentiment and the actions that have generated these disgraceful and shaming actions."
Hoskins said that he was discussing plans to make a more public statement from the sport over the coming days.
"We join others in asking: is this the legacy that Nelson Mandela and so many others fought for in the struggle? Is this how we repay our African brothers who supported us in the fight for our own freedom?
"The criminals and opportunists responsible for the violence and for fermenting intolerance have dragged the name of South Africa through the mud. We support the Government’s efforts to root them out and demonstrate that xenophobia has no home in South Africa," he said.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers added the voice of the Springboks to the president’s call.
"As international sportsmen we meet and play with and against people of many different nationalities," said De Villiers.
"It is a privilege that has enriched my life and that of all Springbok rugby players and this shocking outbreak is definitely not what Springbok rugby or we as South Africans represent.
"I would add to the president’s call by asking everyone involved in rugby to add their voice to the opposition to these actions by it with a Tweet using the hashtag #sportagainstxenophobia, by positing to their Facebook page or just in conversation with everyone with whom they come into contact. We have to make it clear that these actions are not what South Africans stand for.”
Hoskins added that he trusted that the national outpouring of outrage against the attacks would lead to an immediate end to the violence and tension.