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Cabbages & Kings: The politics of rugby …

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It was bound to happen. Despite the national euphoria sparked by the Springbok victory in France last Saturday, the sense of national pride and unity is already being undermined by debates that are starting to rage around peripheral political issues.  

President Mbeki had hardly landed back on the turf of the Stade de France after being hoisted aloft by a jubilant team when there was talk about how disgusting it was that more "players of colour" had not represented South Africa in the final.
Cashing in on the opportunity to exploit the media frenzy and public excitement after the Springboks were crowned world champions, I have already lost count of the number of politicians and other itinerant, opportunistic commentators who have waded in to offer their opinions about the sport’s future.
Almost inevitably these opinions have centred on how rugby should be forced to transform based on a quota system and why the Springbok brand should be banished forever to the scrapheap of a reviled and shameful past.
The real tragedy is not that these issues are being debated – as they most certainly must be – but how they are being addressed while the Web Ellis Cup is still being paraded around the country to a nation of adoring, colour-blind fans.
With the ANC congress in December looming large against a backdrop of what could turn out to be a bitter and divisive race for the party leadership, one can’t help feeling that rugby’s fleeting moment of glory is being hijacked – that a small group of moronic individuals with dubious political ambitions are exploiting the situation for their own vested interests.
– David Bryant