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The Cape Crusaders debate

  • 26 Mar 2013

We asked editor SIMON BORCHARDT and senior sports writer JON CARDINELLI: Should we care if South Africans support the Crusaders?


It's that time of the year again when the Cape Crusaders crawl out of the woodwork and loiter outside the Cullinan Hotel, which happens to be where I park my car every day. When the Crusaders are in town, I have to leave the building where I work and walk across a big open patch of grass before getting to the hotel. And you can bet your bottom (New Zealand) dollar that there will be a group of 'fans' standing around, hoping to catch a glimpse of their 'heroes'. I know I shouldn't care – the vast majority of coloured rugby fans in the Cape support the Stormers, it's just a sad, pathetic minority that don't – but I do. I just don't understand how anyone who grew up in a post-democratic South Africa can support a mainly white New Zealand team against a South African side that has outstanding coloured talent like Elton Jantjies, Juan de Jongh and Gio Aplon. As for the older Cape Crusaders, I completely understand why they wouldn't support an all-white Western Province or Springbok team in the apartheid era – I wouldn't have either – but apartheid ended 19 years ago. The Stormers and Springboks always have coloured representation these days, so surely it's time to move on and support your own people? If you really can't, then please don't encourage your children to support a team that they have absolutely no association with, because it's not fair on them. And don't come with the argument that you 'like the way the Crusaders play the game'. We all know that you wouldn't dream of supporting them if they hadn't won seven Super Rugby titles. No one likes a glory hunter.


How tired is this subject? Yes, there is something wrong when a person is unwilling to let go of the past, something wrong when a person allows the past to shape all their future experiences and choices including who they cheer for on a Saturday. But is this really the big deal that it's made out to be, and should the rest of us who live in a progressive society care? No. People have their reasons for supporting specific teams, and the Cape Crusaders are no different. Many of us may not like it. Many of us may not find their reasons particularly logical in 2013, but that small sector of fans still has the right to choose. As somebody who has been following this issue for some time, I also have to say that it's been blown out of proportion. You only had to attend the two matches at Newlands in 2011, where the Crusaders were involved in a league match and then later in a semi-final. The Cape Crusaders were visible, but their numbers were insignificant compared to the hordes clad in the blue of the Stormers. It will be the same when the Stormers host the Crusaders this weekend, and the same for the rest of Super Rugby history. That insignificantly small group of people really aren't worth whining about.

Photo: Peter Heeger/Gallo Images

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