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Volcana
Sep 12th, 2003, 07:33 PM
I was reading a story about a white South African rugby player who refused to room with a Black. The article went on to point out that racial pride was perhaps held more closely in rugby than in other sports in South Africa. Maybe. I don't live there.

But it got me to thinking about race-relations and sports.

In India, cricket might be the sport that best exemplifies race relations in India. For many countries it's no doubt football (soccer)>

In the USA, it may be tennis. Cwertaily women's tennis the past few years has been a microcosm of USA Black-White relations. Often calm but with tnsion roiling that occassionally break out.

More on this later, but consider the question.

doloresc
Sep 12th, 2003, 07:43 PM
volcana, i hope you don't mind but i've deleted my thread from this morning and pasted the information onto your thread.

dc

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Geo Cronje, in helmet, tackled Quinton Davids in a provinicial league rugby match earlier this year. Mr. Cronje refused to share a room with Mr. Davids during training camp for the South African national team last month
http://graphics7.nytimes.com/images/2003/09/12/international/12afri.large.jpg

Geo Cronje, left, has refused to give his reasons for his snub of Quinton Davids. South Africa's rugby union has put off an inquiry into the affair.

http://graphics7.nytimes.com/images/2003/09/12/international/africa2.jpg

A Mean Scrum on Playing Fields of South Africa
By MICHAEL WINES

JOHANNESBURG, Sept. 11 In the context of a land in which murder, torture and oppression were not so long ago the benchmarks of race relations, what Geo Cronje did on Aug. 22 might seem boorish and stupid, but not the stuff of national angst.

In a nutshell, Mr. Cronje, a white, 23-year-old forward for the Pretoria-based Blue Bulls, refused to share a dormitory room with a black rugby player, Quinton Davids, during tryouts for South Africa's national team, the Springboks. The next day, after his coaches put him and the black player through a grueling physical regimen as punishment, he changed his mind.

While no one has disputed what happened, there is great angst here about why. For three weeks running, Mr. Cronje has been a Page 1 staple, the center of a whirlwind that has provoked a national inquiry into racism in rugby programs from professional sports to elementary-school teams, charges of cover-up and demands for the resignation of the Springboks coach.

On Wednesday, after weeks of ham-handed efforts to contain the firestorm, the coach, Rudolf Straeuli, apologized for failing to fully address the incident at its start. In turn, the privately run South African Rugby Football Union, known by its acronym Sarfu, abruptly postponed its inquiry until after next month's World Cup.

But that has not quelled the notion that the Cronje affair is a test of what South Africans of both races call "the transformation" the decade-long, takeover of a minority white-dominated society by its native black majority. Late Wednesday, the black members of Sarfu's inquiry panel quit, saying they suspected the whole flap is being deftly shoved under the Astroturf.

Others say that seems unlikely, and by now, maybe impossible.

"This wound should not be given time to heal," Liam Del Carme, a black journalist who covered rugby for The Johannesburg Star before leaving to start a new paper, said in an interview this week. "The investigation should be done in a proper way. But I think they came to the realization that it's probably best to delay it and give the guys the opportunity to focus on the World Cup."

In the end, neither man made the team. Mr. Cronje and other principals have been silent all along, and remained so today. Mr. Cronje's most adamant defender has been his father, who told reporters that his son was not raised to be prejudiced.

Since the allegations surfaced last month, no one has said whether Mr. Cronje rejected his roommate out of prejudice or some other motive personal dislike, say, or rivalry for a spot on the Springboks team.

It almost does not matter here. In fact, some of South Africa's grandest displays of unity have sprung from the rugby pitch. But no one disputes the fact that rugby somehow pushes South Africa's racial buttons in a way black-dominated soccer and white-dominated cricket fail to do.

Certainly, neither soccer nor cricket is as freighted with the cultural and historical baggage that rugby lugs to every South African match.

The rugby authority hauled Nelson Mandela, South Africa's president, into court when he dared in 1998 to investigate the sport's racial record. A World Cup coach was forced to resign in 1997 after using racial slurs to describe black rugby administrators. In 1996, the Springboks caused a scandal by fielding a white player convicted of manslaughter for killing a black farm worker.

The issue is not that rugby is an antiblack game. Rugby has been popular among blacks in the Capetown area and along the southeast Indian Ocean coast for decades.

Rather, it may be that the most zealous rugby fans are Afrikaners, the descendants of Dutch settlers who became synonymous with apartheid and its cruelties. Since the end of white minority rule, Afrikaners have embraced rugby as a symbol of cultural pride and lost glory. Even the national team's mascot, the Springbok antelope, was once an apartheid symbol.

Rugby's latest travails are only heightened because Mr. Cronje fits the physical stereotype of a redneck Afrikaner. Beefy and bushy-bearded, he comes from Limpopo Province, the northern stronghold of lingering apartheid sympathy.

Whatever his views on race, "give him a slouch hat, a rifle and a couple of bandoliers and he would pass as a Boer commando," the British newspaper The Guardian wrote last month.

The unconfirmed but mostly unchallenged news reports say that Mr. Cronje was competing head-to-head with Mr. Davids, a 25-year-old player for the Stormers, for a spot on the Springboks. After a Friday practice at a Pretoria University field, Mr. Cronje refused to share either a dormitory room or a bathroom with Mr. Davids, and bunked instead with another Blue Bulls player for the night.

Reports stated that Mr. Straeuli, the coach, made both men run 140 times up a steep embankment as punishment, exhausting Mr. Davids to the point of collapse. Black players at the tryouts were said to be outraged, and word of Mr. Cronje's refusal to share a room with Mr. Davids leaked to the press.

Both the Springboks and Sarfu have tried to calm the ensuing controversy, first clearing Mr. Cronje, then opening an independent inquiry into the affair and the state of race in all South African rugby.

Mr. Straeuli's apology and Sarfu's decision to delay the inquiry until after the World Cup angered critics still more. In addition to the resignations by black members of the inquiry board, the Springboks press official also resigned and issued a broadside charging that the management systematically ignored racism on the team.

Rugby's latest embarrassment is all the more curious because of the sport's starring role at key moments in the march toward majority rule.

In 1976, four white sons of a Port Elizabeth merchant made history and earned the white minority government's enmity by playing rugby with blacks, a major break in the apartheid wall. In 1995, a year after the end of apartheid, the Springboks won the World Cup, and Mr. Mandela donned a jersey bearing the Springbok emblem to show that blacks, too, could embrace a white symbol of South African achievement.

Only last year, the government itself had allowed an end to quotas of black players for each team, implicitly stating that rugby was becoming a colorblind sport in South Africa.

Yet, Sarfu, the rugby governing body now under fire, is headed by black executives, a point that Valence Watson, one of the four brothers who broke rugby's color barrier in 1976, noted in a telephone interview this week.

"The white fellow accused of racism has been defended by many people, some of them black," he said. "And the so-called colored fellow involved in this incident was defended by many, including whites. That shows there's a distinct blurring of the racial lines here."

Steven Laufer, a white business consultant here, recalled attending a rugby game against Australia some two years ago in which a white couple in the next row cheered on the Springboks, especially the efforts of a young black wing who had nearly scored several goals.

The whole conversation was in English. But as the game ended, Mr. Laufer said, the woman turned to her partner and suddenly began speaking in what was obviously their native language, Afrikaans.

"Who would have thought 10 years ago," she said, "that we could love a black boy as much as this?"

Volcana
Sep 12th, 2003, 08:54 PM
No problem.

CC
Sep 12th, 2003, 09:35 PM
That guy is 23?

alexusjonesfan
Sep 13th, 2003, 01:45 AM
I was reading a story about a white South African rugby player who refused to room with a Black. The article went on to point out that racial pride was perhaps held more closely in rugby than in other sports in South Africa. Maybe. I don't live there.

But it got me to thinking about race-relations and sports.

In India, cricket might be the sport that best exemplifies race relations in India. For many countries it's no doubt football (soccer)>

In the USA, it may be tennis. Cwertaily women's tennis the past few years has been a microcosm of USA Black-White relations. Often calm but with tnsion roiling that occassionally break out.

More on this later, but consider the question.
I don't follow, Volcana (being at university is ruining my brain).
I sort of get what you're saying about South Africa (though it's a different place from apartheid times now) and the US...but cricket in India? Cricket is a very politically motivated sport in India (i.e. winning a match against Pakistan might as well be winning a war against them) but it's similar to the place national soccer has in South America (where beating a neighbour is similarly looked on) but I don't see the connection with 'race relations'

Lord Chips
Sep 13th, 2003, 09:58 AM
Geo Conrje is in need of physiciatric help. He once publically stated that Aparthied was a good idea. He is clearly a racist and deserves a life-time ban from the sport. I spend a heck of a lot of money watching Rugby all over Europe each year, and when the public force him out of SA (which will happen soon) he will head to Europe. I certainly would boycott whatever team he plays for.

Racist behaviour in SA Rugby has been a problem sicne 1919 when the All Blacks weren't allowed to play a match using a very tallented player of West Indian origin. Since then SA has always blocked the ABs selection by preventing the select of any "non-whites". On a Springbok tour to NZ many years ago a SA journalist said he was shocked that white New Zealanders should cheer on the New Zealand Maori side against their "fellow whites".

Only in 1970 did SA relax on the AB selection when 4 polynisian players were allowed to play but this tour was marred by riots. The same happened in 1981 when SA went to New Zealand. NZ was torn apart by the fact that Sa were allowed to tour and there were daily riots. Onematch was cancelled when a terminally ill man threatened to crash a plane into a stand (plane noises were heard) and in the final match a plane dropped flour bombs onto the field.

In 1995 when they won the world cup, things seemed to have changed but it was just an act to fool the rest of the world. Nothing has changed except a few more Black players play. SA rugby did a lot to change it's reputation in 1995 but thanks to idiots like Cronje and Louis Lutt (former head of SARFU) all that work has gone to waste.

The enquiry into these allegations is being led by Judge Edwin King, who lead Crickets match fixing enquiry. I believe this enquiry will be hampered and is just a PR stunt anyway. It has the potential to mean the end for a lot of players and given the numbers who have left SA toplay in Europe already, could mean that even Wales could beat them ;).


In my Country Cricket is a great example of the different races in England. Players such as Owais Shah, Kaber Ali, Nasser Hussein and Vikram Solanki have all played for England in the last year. And there are several South Africans who have moved to England for a better quality of life who are pushing through (Andrew Strauss, Chad Keegan (love it!) and Kevin Pieterson). It is something you'll never see in Football (too much racist chanting) and Rugby (too upper class, although there are now black players emerging through the ranks)