Lance Klusener on alleged racial assault: 'A lot of people felt it wasn't handled appropriately'

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Lance Klusener at Kingsmead on 8 December 2015 when he was Dolphins coach.
Lance Klusener at Kingsmead on 8 December 2015 when he was Dolphins coach.
(Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)
  • Former Dolphins coach Lance Klusener called a team meeting in the aftermath of the 2016 incident involving Robbie Frylinck to ascertain the mood of the team.
  • Frylinck is alleged to have punched former Dolphins team-mate Aya Myoli in a suspected racially motivated assault.
  • Former KZN Cricket Union president Faeez Jaffar blamed the incident on a team "fines meeting" that got out of hand.

More revelations have emerged surrounding the alleged racial assault by Dolphins all-rounder Robbie Frylinck on former team-mate Aya Myoli during a 3-Day match for KwaZulu-Natal Coastal in 2016.

Then Dolphins head coach Lance Klusener, who had sent the pair to play for the 'B' side to get game time, told Sport24 that in a team meeting after Frylinck was cleared to play in just over a week following the incident, there was dissatisfaction in the team about how the matter was handled.

Klusener, who coached the team from 2012 to 2016, said he communicated to then CEO Pete de Wet (now based in New Zealand) the feeling within the team.

Frylinck is alleged to have punched Myoli in the face during an argument after a 3-Day game between KZN Coastal and Boland in Paarl. The incident took place on the team's trip to Cape Town International Airport as they were making their way back to Durban.

"There were a lot of people who felt that it was not handled in the appropriate manner. Hence, we had that meeting afterwards," said Klusener.

"We obviously weren't all there, but we were upset [by it]. I think, in any workplace, let alone in a sporting environment, if there is a disagreement, then there are channels to deal with that. Taking it into your own hands is not acceptable.

"There was still a lot of dissatisfaction as to [the process]. As far as I remember, he was suspended for a short time and fined, and was allowed back into the team environment after about a week, which a lot of people were uncomfortable with, especially after the nature of the incident.

"However, what was said [during the incident] or what actually went down in the disciplinary, I wasn't party to that."

Myoli lifted the lid on the incident last weekend, detailing how, after Frylinck punched him, he was then forced to remain in Cape Town because the all-rounder had reported to airplane stewards that he was being threatened by Myoli.

Once reported to De Wet, Frylinck was suspended for a period of just over a week, while the events of the incident were heard in the CEO's office.

Myoli claims there was no thorough investigation or independent hearing as claimed by the Dolphins.

Klusener said, regardless of the exact motivation behind what happened, it was unacceptable to physically assault a colleague and that's what made other people within the team uncomfortable with the resultant short suspension.

"I called the meeting to try to iron things out and find a way forward, and are we ready to have him back," the current Afghanistan coach said.

"A lot of people were not happy with how things worked out and felt that it could have been handled in a different way. That was to get a sense of 'where are we now?' Is it okay that Rob's been allowed back into the team environment?

"[But] as players and employees, we needed to respect the disciplinary process; however, there were people who weren't quite ready to have him back.

"Who was right and who was wrong, was not really the issue - whether it's a racial thing or a selection thing. We asked ourselves if we were happy to have someone who had hit somebody else back in the team.

"There was a general consensus, especially among our black players, that the players weren't ready. They felt they needed more time to digest what went down. Some had spoken to me privately, including some senior players, and that's how we ended up having a meeting.

"As you know, I don't stand for any of that stuff. My concern was on the way it was handled and how you can't just take matters into your own hands, in any work environment. Imagine if you had a disagreement with someone at work and decided to hit them; you probably wouldn't be back on Monday.

"I did express everyone's concerns to Pete. I told him the general feeling was that a lot of people are not ready to have him back. I did tell him. He said the disciplinary process has gone ahead and that's what they found. I had to accept that."

Another member of the Dolphins team at the time, who was present in the aforementioned meeting, corroborated Myoli's and Klusener's version of events.

"What Aya told you is true," said the high-placed source, who asked to remain anonymous as they were still involved in South African cricket.

"There were four people (other than Frylinck and Myoli) who were also in the vehicle and three of them wanted to corroborate Aya's story, but they weren't given the opportunity by the union.

"It was viewed as a racist incident when we addressed it. I specifically remember the meeting we had at the old Annex board at Kingsmead with the extended squad. It was decided that Robbie was no longer welcome as part of the Dolphins group.

"He went against what we stood for. That information was relayed to the management at [the] Dolphins and they took it upon themselves to do whatever they wanted and look after Robbie.

"If this was any other player, he would have been fired."

Frylinck did not respond to messages requesting for comment.

"I am not engaging in conversation with you until I've got legal advice," Frylinck texted.

The KZN Cricket Union president at the time, Faeez Jaffar, blamed the incident on a team "fines meeting", where players get to hash out their feelings on the particular game that took place.

"Teams always have these fines meetings after the game - which I detest - and the issue came up where, apparently, Aya didn't want to bowl into the wind during the course of the game," said Jaffar.

"There was a whole lot of finger pointing and there was tension brewing. Robbie, as captain, felt Aya didn't want to play his part for the team. Aya said he wasn't given a fair chance.

"The tension on the field went into the fines committee and so on. Then, on their way, they ended up spending the duration of the day at the Waterfront.

"You know when guys have time on their hands, they can end up getting into heavy drinking and that. That's when things got out of hand when there was a difference of opinion between Robbie and Aya in the car.

"I then got the call that Aya didn't board the plane after there was a complaint from one of the team members, that they were getting threatened, and that Aya had gone AWOL. I gave the instruction to the team manager that they must go find him.

"My instruction, as the political head of the union, to Pete was to investigate immediately; call the parties in. The DC (disciplinary hearing) took place. It should be found at the union. We always kept record of what happened."

Myoli said he wrote to the South African Cricketers' Association (SACA), as well as Cricket South Africa (CSA), about the incident, who, according to the Lions player, failed to act.

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