I was in a KZN Midlands bar to witness our loss to Italy. Mostly the patrons were hardly watching, such is the extent of frustration at the political masterplan imposed on SA sport by Minister Fikile Mbalula. Notwithstanding the fact that many of our talented players have left our shores, including for Italy, notwithstanding the fact that our Minister seems to care little for opportunity and facilities at school level or for the identification and nurturing of talent – the decline of our rugby prowess and our induced disconnected patriotism will remain his enduring legacy as he seeks favour with his political master under the guise of pursuing racial correctness. Comment by Steuart Pennington
Enjoyed another first this weekend being among 80 000 rugby fans watching England at Twickenham. It was a spectacle even though the opponents, Olympic Gold medallists in Rugby Sevens Fiji, were never in the game. After running in four tries in the first quarter, Eddie Jones-coached England stepped off the gas but still ended with a record 58-15 victory.
It was a sobering experience for a Springbok supporter. In a one-on-one comparison, the powerfully built Fiji players matched their counterparts. But the game revealed the massive difference between a team coached by a master tactician and a bunch of tryers. It illustrated the chasm between calm, well-drilled professionals and emotive, enthusiastic amateurs.
England rugby has no hang-ups about the racial makeup of a team where black players substantially exceed their 13% demographic share. And its leaders employ the best coach they could find, who just happens to be Australian. Their fans are reaping the rewards. In contrast to the politically-correct juggling pressures which has turned the once mighty Springboks warriors into a dispirited bunch. Witness their fresh humiliation in Florence on Saturday.
Fiji offers a pointer to the future of South African rugby and, indeed, the country itself. On the weekend, eight Fijian wings were on duty for international teams because the nation’s most talented players seek a better life elsewhere. In last year’s Rugby World Cup, 16 South African-born players represented other countries. Their number is growing. This sends a broader message to the drifting nation. Warning flags are waving. But is anyone seeing them?