‘We remain a united team’

Former Springbok centre Hennie le Roux says the 1995 team are still united despite several members apparently disagreeing over Francois Pienaar’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Sunday newspaper Rapport reported that some of the players from the 1995 World Cup-winning Springbok side disagreed with former captain Pienaar’s decision to kneel in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before the recent Solidarity Cup cricket match in Centurion.

Words were reportedly exchanged on the 1995 Springboks’ Whatsapp group, which eventually resulted in Pienaar leaving the group, followed shortly by former flyhalf Joel Stransky, centre Christiaan Scholtz, team manager Morne du Plessis and former SA Rugby chief executive Edward Griffiths.

Senior Springboks pointed to Le Roux who, as the team’s spokesperson, said they remained a family even though they may have differences of opinion from time to time.

‘We [the 1995 Springboks] remain a close and united team,’ Le Roux said in a statement. ‘Although opinions are encouraged and from time to time they can differ. This country and all its people are under massive pressure and face great challenges. This team’s character is to have fiery debates, but at all times stay respectful and united.

‘Our biggest interest is and will always be to keep the country united and in the process remain steadfast and discourage any form of division. The Rainbow nation matters.’

Pienaar told Rapport that he took the knee as a signal of his intent to stand against ‘any form of racism and suppression’.

‘I also want to listen to people’s stories, like [former Proteas bowler] Makhaya Ntini’s. I also believe that someone like [the late] Chester Williams, who was part of our 1995 team, was uncomfortable with certain things at times.

‘We must build a future together,’ he added. ‘It is easy to break something. The question is how we can build. To build, we must listen and work together. It takes compassion and time.

‘What does surprise me is that the group is private and that the information [about the BLM debate] came out. I am disappointed that what was discussed in the group was leaked to the media. I wonder why?’


Photo: Getty Images