Richards Bay Rugby Club appeals against penalty for racism

2012-06-28 00:00

RICHARDS Bay Rugby Club has lodged an appeal against the findings of a KZN Rugby Union panel that imposed penalties on them after hearing a charge of racism.

The hearing was chaired by advocate Junior Makhoba, with both clubs’ chairpersons present.

The union found that the club failed to take action against its supporters after a racist brawl at a game played on May 19 in Richards Bay.

Khetha Mabaso, the Jaguars chairperson who laid the complaint, said he had been called “a k***** who does not belong in the game of rugby” by someone he suspected was a parent of a Richards Bay club player.

The same man had attacked an injured Jaguars prop, he said.

A black Jaguars coach had been refused entry to the venue’s public toilets.

Finding in Jaguars’ favour, the panel ordered that Richards Bay Rugby Club (RBRC) forfeit its next home game, scheduled for June 30, and those for the rest of the year until it drew up a list of actions for the rugby union on what measures it would put in place to prevent bad behaviour from spectators in future.

The club was found guilty of failing to provide adequate spectator control and discriminatory behaviour levelled at the chairperson of the Jaguars club.

The panel also ordered RBRC to introduce a programme twice a season, by which supporters who breach the union’s code of conduct be removed from the stadium by authorised club officials, among other outcomes.

Mabaso said: “We think that racism is a bigger thing than a one-match ban. The punishment does not fit the crime, but there is nothing I can do. We won’t respond or challenge anything; we want to see the process go through. The complaint was not meant to finish off the club, but to fix the problem.”

He said he believed RBRC’s chairperson, Desmond Hibbert, was serious about fixing the problem.

Hibbert said all the sanctions were being held in abeyance while the appeal process was continuing.

A game this weekend against Pietermaritzburg Waratahs would go ahead.

The president of the KZN Rugby Union, Graham MacKenzie, said both the ruling and sentence were up for review and the matter was now again ‘almost sub judice’.

The appeal would be heard next Tuesday or Wednesday.

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