Springboks

49 rugby coaches, former players join former Proteas in support of Lungi Ngidi and Black Lives Matter

Ashwin Willemse (Gallo)
Ashwin Willemse (Gallo)
  • Rugby has joined hands with cricket in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and Lungi Ngidi’s stance on the worldwide movement.
  • The 49-member list includes former Springboks Ashwin Willemse, Kaya Malotana, Hilton Lobberts, Norman Jordaan, Thando Manana and Adrian Jacobs.
  • Disaffected qualified and experienced black coaches, who’ve been overlooked for top rugby jobs, have decided now is the right time to speak out against discrimination in the sport.

Forty-nine rugby coaches, former players and administrators – including former Springboks Ashwin Willemse, Kaya Malotana, Hilton Lobberts, Norman Jordaan, Thando Manana and Adrian Jacobs – have joined together in support of Lungi Ngidi and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The group, which is growing by the hour, also includes former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers, former SA Sevens coach Paul Treu, as well as former Namibia coach John Williams and other esteemed black coaches such as Jonathan Mokuena, Chumani Booi, Kabamba Floors and Vuyo Zangqa.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the group said:

"The negative response to the comments from Lungi Ngidi identified the fault lines within cricket and society.

"Current and former Protea players publicly supported his views on this matter [but] 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.

"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 [black] head coaches and top administrators … continues."

Ngidi's support for the Black Lives Matter movement was met with backlash from a few white former Proteas, Pat Symcox, Boeta Dippenaar and Rudi Steyn, which raised the ire of victimised former and current professionals within the two sporting codes.

The group pointed out that job discrimination within rugby’s professional circles was one of the biggest forms of racism experienced by qualified black coaches in the country.

"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," the statement added.

"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 latest media release from a group of black sporting professionals and former internationals is the latest act in a growing call for cricket and rugby to speed up inclusion and end systematic racism.

"We can no longer live in fear and our inner voices won’t be silenced anymore," the statement concluded.

Though there have been strides in rugby’s transformation – such as a Springbok team led by captain Siya Kolisi lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy last year – there remains a chasm between the top jobs held by white people and those by black.

None of the six South African franchises, neither in PRO14 nor Super Rugby, went into 2020 with a black coach in charge.

Read the full statement below:

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 fault lines 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 calls for equality in rugby.

Signed by:

  1. Mac Masina
  2. John Williams
  3. Ashwin Willemse
  4. Adrian Jacobs
  5. Wayne Julies
  6. Vuyo Zangqa
  7. Peter de Villiers
  8. Thando Manana
  9. Labeeb levy
  10. Jonathan Mokuena
  11. Paul Treu
  12. David Manuel
  13. Hilton Lobberts
  14. Danwel Demas
  15. Gary Boshoff
  16. Deon Carelse
  17. Nirven Arendse
  18. Norman Jordaan
  19. Eddie Fredericks
  20. Johan Mettler
  21. Wilbur Kraak
  22. Anvor Schooney
  23. Aschin Klein
  24. Bronson Weir
  25. Reginald Nutt
  26. Chumani Booi
  27. JP Kellerman
  28. Jearus Nicholas
  29. Carlos Katywa
  30. Saaid Blake
  31. Darryl Coeries
  32. David Hendricks
  33. Sino Ganto
  34. Brendal Brandt
  35. Sammy Horne
  36. John Booysen
  37. Travor Pieterse
  38. Wylie Seroot
  39. Tiger Mangweni
  40. Denzil Frans
  41. Neil Papier
  42. Jerome Pietersen
  43. Nazeem Adams
  44. Warren Petersen
  45. David Maidza
  46. Therlow Pietersen
  47. Kaya Malotana
  48. Kabamba Floors
  49. Chris October
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