A group of 49 rugby coaches and ex-players, including six former Springboks, have thrown their support behind Proteas bowler Lungi Ngidi and the ever-growing Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Ngidi, who was recently named SA Men’s ODI and T20I Cricketer of the Year, told reporters last week that he will encourage his Proteas teammates to take a united stand against racism.
His comments weren’t entirely welcomed by former players Boeta Dippenaar and Pat Symcox, who both took aim at Ngidi’s stance, claiming the fast bowler should fight for ‘All Lives Matter’.
But he did, however, get support from a group of 31 former black Proteas players and five senior professional coaches who released an open letter on Tuesday.
Following suit, the 49 rugby coaches, which include Adrian Jacobs, Ashwin Willemse, Thando Manana, ex-Bok boss Peter de Villiers and former Blitzboks coach Paul Treu, released a statement of their own Wednesday, highlighting inequalities within the local rugby system and calling for an end to systemic racism within the game.
Here it is in full:
STATEMENT BY RUGBY COACHES AND FORMER PLAYERS IN SUPPORT OF LUNGI NGIDI AND BLACK LIVES MATTER
What was hidden has come out. It is clear that there may be other ‘white’ sportspersons and others in South Africa who continue to have world views that are shaped by racism. The negative response to the comments from Lungi Ngidi identified the faultlines within cricket and society. Current and former Protea players publicly supported his views on this matter.
Since the global outcry for ‘Black Lives Matter’ and the movement’s continuous fight against racism and inequality, rugby administrators in South Africa have remained mum on this topic. Although SA Rugby made big strides to ensure our playing squads are representative at national level, the uninterrupted exclusion of head coaches and top administrators, classified as Black in terms of the equality laws of South Africa, continues.
Most rugby unions in South Africa will quickly play the numbers game that coaching structures and administrators are indeed well represented at all levels, but it is at senior and strategic level where ‘job reservation’ continues. It is here that most positions are reserved for their white counterparts. Black coaches, administrators and service providers continue to be excluded as head coaches, Directors of Rugby, High Performance Managers, CEO’s or providers of professional expertise.
The facts are:
100% exclusion of Black Head Coaches at Springbok, SA U20, Pro14, Super Rugby and Premier Currie Cup.
100% exclusion of Black CEOs.
100% exclusion of Blacks as High Performance Managers.
Often the question is asked, why didn’t you speak out when you were players and even now as coaches or former players? The answer is quite simple, those with the courage to speak out are marginalised and forced to seek employment outside rugby or sport. It is this fear of losing employment and being left without a plan B that is making the number of people on this list a little less than anticipated. We can no longer live in fear and our inner voices won’t be silenced any more. From the time of colonialism into apartheid there has been uninterrupted ‘white’ control of the top coaching and administrative posts. This inequality must stop and the victimisation of critical voices must end.
In this month where we celebrate Nelson Mandela, let us recommit to the ideals that he stood for and end inequality in sport and oppose racism wherever it exists. As former players and coaches in South Africa, we stand in solidarity with Lungi Ngidi, the BLM Movement and call for equality in rugby.
The statement was signed by:
Mac Masina, John Williams, Ashwin Willemse, Adrian Jacobs, Wayne Julies, Vuyo Zangqa, Peter de Villiers, Thando Manana, Labeeb levy, Jonathan Mokuena, Paul Treu, David Manuel, Hilton Lobberts, Danwel Demas, Gary Boshoff, Deon Carelse, Nirven Arendse, Norman Jordaan, Eddie Fredericks, Johan Mettler, Wilbur Kraak, Anvor Schooney, Aschin Klein, Bronson Weir, Reginald Nutt, Chumani Booi, JP Kellerman, Jearus Nicholas, Carlos Katywa, Saaid Blake, Darryl Coeries, David Hendricks, Sino Ganto, Brendal Brandt, Sammy Horne, John Booysen, Travor Pieterse, Wylie Seroot, Tiger Mangweni, Denzil Frans, Neil Papier, Jerome Pietersen, Nazeem Adams, Warren Petersen, David Maidza, Therlow Pietersen, Kaya Malotana, Kabamba Floors, Chris October.
Photo: Gallo Images