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31st Aug 2015

This court bid could prevent South Africa from competing at the Rugby World Cup

Kevin Beirne

A tough year for South African rugby could be set to get a whole lot worse.

After losing all three games in this year’s Rugby Championship, at least Springbok fans had the World Cup to look forward to.

South Africa have come away from two of their five World Cup appearances with the William Webb Ellis trophy in hand – the highest success rate of any nation.

2007 RWC Final - England v South Africa

But a political party called Agency for New Agenda (ANA) – formerly known as South Africa First – has launched a court appeal to prevent the Springboks from competing in this year’s tournament due to the lack of non-white players in the squad.

The Rainbow Nation obviously has a complicated past when it comes to race. The national rugby team has been traditionally dominated by white players, despite white people making up less than 10% of the population.

The ANA statement says that despite the improvements in the amount of non-white players in the Springbok team, ‘it is common knowledge that some citizens … resist such transformation and continue to practice activities‚ acts and conduct that are premised on unfair discrimination based on a number of criteria‚ including race.

‘However‚ it is regrettable that such remnants and vestiges of racism‚ racial discrimination and racial exclusion and resistance to transformation still exist‚ and determine‚ to a very large extent‚ the fate of the majority of the country’s black population.’

Speaking to World Rugby directly, the ANA say: ‘We call upon you to suspend‚ with immediate effect‚ the membership of South Africa from your organisation and to bar the participation of South Africa from the World Rugby World Cup 2015.’

South Africa are expected to dominate their World Cup pool of Scotland, Samoa, Japan and USA. Should the appeal be successful, it would be a throwback to the pre-1992 era when South Africa was banned from participating in competitive matches as part of a global Apartheid boycott.