Springboks world cup could be stopped in court

An almost unknown South African political party has filed an an urgent court
bid to try and stop the Springboks from flying to England for this month’s Rugby
World Cup.

The political party says that the Springbok squad has too many white players
and does not represent South Africa’s population.

The squad has 31 players and 22 players in the squad are white.

The Agency for a New Agenda (ANA), which says it broke away from the ruling
ANC party in 2013, lodged the application last Friday a few hours before coach
Heyneke Meyer named a record nine black players in the 31-man World Cup squad.

The team was “built on racially-exclusionary and racially-biased criteria”,
which was unconstitutional, said party leader Edward Mokhoanatse.

“So we are asking the court to stop them from going (to England) and order
them to surrender their passports,” Mokhoanatse told AFP.

The case, which cites Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and the country’s rugby
union SARU as respondents, is due to be heard in the High Court in Pretoria
on Wednesday.

SARU will oppose the application, according to its spokesman, Andy Colquhoun.

Traditionally a white Afrikaner sport, rugby became a symbol of national reconciliation
when the country’s first black president Nelson Mandela famously donned a Springbok
jersey when presenting captain Francois Pienaar with the 1995 Rugby World Cup
in South Africa.

But the racial composition of the Springboks has remained an emotive public
issue, with calls for racial quotas raising fears among some white fans that
the selection of players on anything other than merit would weaken the national
team.

On Monday, the mainly-Afrikaner Freedom Front Plus handed a petition to the
British High Commission in Pretoria to protest against “political interference
in sport in South Africa” — an apparent reference to what it sees as the
inclusion of black players on a racial basis.

“It is unacceptable that South Africa is denied the opportunity to send
its best team to the Rugby World Cup,” the party said in a statement.

“This type of interference on a racial basis led to an international sport
boycott against South Africa under the previous regime.

“It is in breach of the golden international sporting code of no political
interference in sport.”

Britain, the former colonial power, was a leading force in an international
boycott of South African teams over racism in the sport during the apartheid
years.

The two opposing views of the latest team selection appear to reflect the extremes
on both sides, however, with some commentators apparently satisfied with the
latest team selection and efforts at racial transformation.

While the Freedom Front Plus is represented in parliament, the ANA is not,
and has never contested an election.

Party leader Mokhoanatse refused to state the size of its membership.

He said the party has also written to the international rugby union asking
it to suspend the membership of South Africa, a major contender in the global
showpiece from September 18 to October 31 in England.

Coach Meyer has saturated the squad with experience saying it “has a great
balance between youth and experience, keeping together the core of the team
that did the country proud in the last few years.”

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