Springboks

Drama amongst 1995 Springboks over Francois Pienaar's Black Lives Matter stance

Graeme Smith, Makhaya Ntini and Francois Pienaar take the knee for the Black Lives Matter movement
Graeme Smith, Makhaya Ntini and Francois Pienaar take the knee for the Black Lives Matter movement
Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Francois Pienaar's decision to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter (BLM) at last month's Solidarity Cup cricket match did not go down well with all of his 1995 World Cup-winning team-mates, according to reports. 

The 53-year-old, who captained the Boks to World Cup glory 25 years ago, is the CEO of 3TC (3-Team Cricket) and was attending the 18 July event at SuperSport Park in Centurion. 

Before the first ball was bowled, all players and staff present at the match took a knee in support of BLM and Protea speedster Lungi Ngidi, who had voiced his own backing of the movement only to receive criticism from a small but vocal section of the South African cricketing community. 

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has since thrown its full support behind the movement and formed a Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) project that "aims to eradicate any racism, discrimination or feelings of exclusion from cricket."

The BLM movement has gained traction all over the world, with major sporting events like Formula One, the English Premier League and the NBA all making their stances against racism, discrimination and exclusion clear. 

According to Rapport, though, Pienaar's decision to lend his voice to the movement did not go down well with all of his former team-mates and the discussion became so intense that it ended with him leaving the WhatsApp group made up of members of the 1995 'family'. 

The article claims that some of the class of 1995 were upset by the fact that Pienaar taking the knee had indirectly linked them to being in support of BLM.

Pienaar, the report adds, then posted a long message to the group explaining his decision before leaving. 

Joel Stransky (flyhalf), Morne du Plessis (team manager), Edward Griffiths (former SARU CEO) and Christiaan Scholtz (centre) reportedly left the group after Pienaar did.

Speaking to Rapport, Pienaar defended his decision to take a knee in 18 July, saying it was important to listen to the views of black players like Makhaya Ntini who had stories to tell of incidents that made them feel uncomfortable. 

Pienaar said he was disappointed that the information had come out. 

"What does surprise me is that the group is private but the information came out," he said, adding that over the years there had been other instances of members leaving and then returning to the group once things had "cooled down". 

"I am disappointed that what was discussed on the group was leaked to the media.

"The 1995 Springboks are like a family, and sometimes families have differences of opinion."

Responding to the notion too much attention is given to BLM while the murders of white farmers does not generate enough media attention, Pienaar said that "farm murders are equally disgusting."

"In 2017, I was one of those who participated in a march after the farm murder of Stellenbosch wine farmer Joubert Conradie," he added.

"I am against any murders, rapes and corruption. Security in our country is not what it should be. People should not be afraid."

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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