Rugby - why don’t we go back to the 'good old days'?

2018-05-13 06:04
Simnikiwe Xabanisa

Johannesburg - My four-year-old son has reached that dreadful age where, in addition to being incredibly conceited, the burning question on his lips is why he has to listen to either of his parents.

With “because we said so” a little low on the options list, his mother and I have done our best to explain the concept of our responsibility to guide him into being a reasonable adult one day, but it doesn’t always help due to his tendency to go ahead and do what he wants anyway.

Because we can no longer smack him - and there are days I wish I had the inclination or the legal justification - the best way to deal with his ever increasing spurts of disobedience is to take away the things he loves until he hopefully toes the line.

Watching the spectre of racism in rugby consistently rear its head as if it’s still the 1990s, I can’t help but think of SA Rugby as being in as feeble a position as we are with our son, having to explain once a week to a determined sector of their parish why rugby is a democratic right for all, as opposed to some unexplained Afrikaner birthright.

It’s been 26 years since “unity” in rugby was declared, but you can still set your clock by some nitwit testing the bounds of human decency by racially abusing some poor bastard or other who just wants to play, coach, administer or support the game.

Quite when simply wanting to be involved in something you love - and the guys in my rugby WhatsApp group are bona fide tragics whose habit of texting about the game until midnight has got me in trouble with my girlfriend - became a crime punishable by being called a k****r or the odd slap (here’s looking at you, Roodepoort) beggars belief.

The more I watch the reaction to each incident, the more I think the powers that be feel as helpless as I feel about keeping my little boy in line, mainly because there don’t seem to be deterrent enough measures in place on how to combat racism in the game.

There was a letter from the Bulls promising to do something about an incident we knew nothing about recently - Lions general manager Pieter Visser sounded more irritated with a radio interviewer than embarrassed by having to talk about racism again after the Roodepoort incident; and Griquas 'nitwit' president Jannie Louw this week explained away a player waving the old South African flag as a joke.

There have been many reactions to it - anger, despair, raging against the machine - but, for me, a sense of resignation is creeping in. Since when did loving rugby warrant half of the abuse black people are constantly exposed to?

My idea of what to do is not too dissimilar to taking my laaitie’s toys away when he’s not behaving himself. How about we give the rabid racists in our game what they want by leaving rugby en masse and focusing on sports that want to be part of a democratic South Africa?

Said solution would come with a “good old days” measure of removing international competition and going back to the biggest games around being Noord Transvaal and Wee Pee knocking each other senseless in a six-team Currie Cup with no chance of fronting up against the All Blacks.

In the new back to the future competitions, coaches can coach teams made up of 50% family instead of black players, with the rest of their extended families and friends filling up our cavernous stadiums with nary a chance of being offended by singing and dancing black fans while trying to watch the game in a “civilised” manner.

What about us? Well, not having Super Rugby to talk about in my WhatsApp group would hurt, but it would be made up for by at least being able to watch - and cheer without losing our jobs - the All Blacks and whoever else we’d like to.

We’d also outsource our allegiances to cricket, athletics and whatever other sporting codes whose fans have made it to the 21st century. As the kids like to say, this rugby watching thing is not that serious.

Follow me on Twitter @Simxabanisa

Read more on:    simnikiwe xabanisa  |  rugby


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