The ANC in the Western Cape says that if there is no transformation in SA rugby when it comes to quotas, management, and culture, then maybe the sport should be placed in quarantine.
The comments come after former Springbok wing Ashwin Willemse walked out of the Supersport studio on Saturday evening.
In a dramatic scene, Willemse walked off set following an apparent disagreement with co-presenters Nick Mallett and Naas Botha.
“As the ANC, we believe that Ashwin‘s public walkout is a result of what many black people experience in offices and boardrooms across the country, where being black is a constant source of being undermined, doubted, spoken down upon and largely made to feel outside various social cliques and cores within the same working environment‘, said provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs.
He continued:”Now it appears that our commentators are there to add colour, but not insight”.
While it is still unclear what led to Willemse‘s obvious unhappiness, the former Lions and Springbok wing said: “I’ve been in the game for a long time like most of us here. As a player, I’ve been called a quota for a long time and I’ve worked very hard to earn the respect I have now. I’m not going to sit here and be patronised by these two individuals (Mallett and Botha) who played their rugby during the apartheid era, a segregated era.”
Willemse went on to say he “can‘t work with people who undermine other people” and that he was “glad it happened on live TV so that people can see”.
Jacobs said the ANC in Western Cape had seen how Willemse had used his stature and hard earned position to ensure that previously disadvantaged youth could have a better chance at making it in life than he did.
“Ashwin is therefore not a [man] who is easily moved by petty squabbles that may occasionally happen among colleagues or sportsman”, said Jacobs.
He added that this is not the first time that the black rugby community had suffered hurt and humiliation.
“The more recent humiliation includes the way in which Coach Peter de Villiers was caricatured, ridiculed and dismissed into the wilderness despite the results on the field. Similarly we have seen the dismissal of coach Allister Coetzee when everyone knew he was given a ‘hospital pass‘ in the form of restrictive selection options – on overseas players – and a rushed itinerary of International matches. In contrast, the ‘favored son‘, ‘Rassie‘ Erasmus, without proven credentials, is eased into the post, with all restrictions dropped, and will probably be forgiven for easing the number of black players.”
Willemse, 36, played for the Springboks between 2003 and 2007, scoring five tries in 19 appearances.