End of road for Watson?

2008-10-12 22:39

Cape Town – Luke Watson’s outspokenness could mean the end of the road for the controversial rugby player’s career in South Africa.

Watson could face a disciplinary hearing after newspaper reports at the weekend that he had railed against Afrikaners and had wanted to vomit on the Springbok jersey.

The South African Rugby Union expressed shock on Sunday and Victor Matfield, who captained the Springboks this year, criticised Watson.

“Saru is shocked about comments by Watson about South African Rugby, his Springbok teammates and the national jersey,” the SA Rugby Union said in a statement.

“Saru has arranged for an urgent meeting to be held on Monday to determine the accuracy of the reports,” according to the statement.

'Comments were despicable'

The Western Province Rugby Union and the University of Cape Town Rugby Club, where the comments were allegedly made, will be asked to attend the meeting.

Andy Marinos, Saru’s manager of national teams and acting general manager, said the alleged comments were viewed as “very serious”.

Matfield told Morris Gilbert the comments were despicable.

“I was hoping we were past the stage when people were differentiated from one another according to race, culture and language.

“If Luke used those words, he shattered the dreams of millions of young South Africans to one day play for the Springboks.

“Luke identified with the code of honour of the Springbok team which says one’s own interest is always subject to that of the team.

“When I was captain (of the Springboks) I did my best to involve Luke in all the activities. I asked him to make an input in video and team sessions and he did not want to.

'Trying to stimulate dialogue'

“It is untrue that the other players didn’t try to accept him. It is rather a case of Luke never wanting to be part of the Springbok setup.

“Many players came to me to complain that Luke was not, or did not want to be, a Springbok in heart and soul,” Matfield said.

According to a report on, Watson made the comments during the Ubumbo rugby festival as the University of Cape Town on October 3.

One of the organisers of the Ubumbo forum, Thando Gobe, confirmed on Sunday that Watson had been the guest speaker.

“We are trying to stimulate dialogue about transformation,” Gobe said. “This is not recorded because we encourage speakers to be honest for the sake of those who are present.”

Young people are able to hear, at such a forum, what opposition they may expect, Gobe added.

“Luke wanted to say, for example, why he had wanted to continue playing after everything that had happened.

“It is hoped that it could encourage … black players to continue playing. One often sees them stopping after junior rugby.”

Former players have also reacted strongly.

Wynand Claassen, who captained the Springboks during the riot-torn tour of New Zealand in 1981,said Watson should be banned from rugby.

"There are many young players, black, white and coloured, who would give their all to be a Springbok and he reviled it.

"One can now see why [former coach] Jake White didn't want to select him. Maybe [Watson] is the problem."

He added that Watson doesn't know what he is talking about if he thinks the sport is controlled by "Dutchmen".

Frik du Preez, named the "rugby player of the century", was also upset.
"If he is so unhappy about the state of SA rugby, he should withdraw," he said.

From the Beeld, Die Burger and Volksblad newspapers