Angry PE residents block rugby offices after Boks ditch tour in northern areas

2019-11-11 20:31
Makazola Mapimpi,Siya Kolisi and Lukhanyo Am during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Champions Tour on Sunday in East London. (Michael Sheehan, Gallo Images)

Makazola Mapimpi,Siya Kolisi and Lukhanyo Am during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Champions Tour on Sunday in East London. (Michael Sheehan, Gallo Images)

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Disgruntled fans from Port Elizabeth's northern areas are calling on the Springboks to make a return visit after they failed to pitch up during the Webb Ellis Cup tour on Sunday.

Residents did not get an opportunity to see their heroes up close during the tour.

The disgruntled group gathered outside the Eastern Province Rugby Union's offices on Monday morning, demanding answers about why the Springboks did not pass through their neighbourhood.

LIVE | Boks' bus stops on N2 for 'bathroom break', selfies and autographs with fans

Some disappointed fans parked their cars as early as 07:00, before placing padlocks and chains on the gates in protest.

ANC MPL Christian Martin, who was among the group, said they were showing their "disgust" that the people had waited for the champions who never pitched.

"Somebody redirected the convoy and did something to the itinerary, and they couldn't stick to it. We feel that was not right, nor fair that something like that was done." 

Boks apologise

Martin said a circulating voice clip was making the rounds, mocking the northern areas, saying "how strong black power is that the Springboks only went to four townships in the metro and not the northern areas".

He said that had caused more anger within the community.

Martin added they met with EP Rugby president Andre Rademan and general manager Thando Manana who listened to their complaints. 

The SA Rugby Union, through their Springboks Twitter page, apologised on Sunday to the residents, saying that congestion had forced route changes so as to avoid running late for their flight to Cape Town for the final leg of the tour. 


"Massive crowds, congestion and a waiting flight to Cape Town meant an unavoidable last-minute route change. We are as disappointed as you are, and we do apologise sincerely," it tweeted.

'They did not have a normal SAA flight'

Martin, however, said they did not accept the apology and reasons given, adding they had time because their flight was a chartered one.

"People would not have complained if they came, not stop and just pass through - not to appear is the problem. They did not have a normal SAA flight, it was chartered. They could come, not stop and just waving…"

He said they believed that what delayed things was that the bus kept stopping where it was not meant to, which affected the itinerary.

"From our side, we feel that SA Rugby needs to come with some form of compensation. One, play a Test match in the area in the future and correct it. Two, bring some of the boys with the trophy to meet the people of the northern areas and show how sincere they are," Martin added.

"Deferred dreams for kids"

Manana told News24 residents had given the union's president a mandate for him to come up with options within seven days on how the Springboks could give back to the northern areas following the "unfortunate incident".

Manana added the union was not involved in the planning of the tour, saying the City and SA Rugby had facilitated it. 

He said the union joined in only after it had raised concerns on why it was not included, adding it was invited to two meetings where it contributed toward the routes the bus was to take in giving a fair glimpse to everyone in the city, including residents in the northern areas. 

"Remember, there were kids who were longing to see their stars. It's a dream deferred for them and for how long they will get that opportunity, remains to be seen because the next World Cup is in 2023."  

Manana said the meeting with angry residents was calm and not violent, adding the union understood people felt neglected.

He said while the Boks have sent an apology via its social platforms, not everyone had access to it which was important that there was a suggestion that the national team returned for an apology tour.  

"We also have a disclaimer to say we apologise for the rugby-mad PE people. This was in no way ours to run as Eastern Province.

"That is why it is important that sport people run sport-related affairs and politicians stick to being political leaders in our country. In so doing, we could have smoother transitions…" said Manana. 


Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  springboks  |  protests
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