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Rugby Crusaders

Jou Ma se Province

by Nick Pawson / 19.03.2012

During the opening weekend of Super Rugby last month, you would have been impressed by the amount of yellow-clad supporters cheering on the Hurricanes at Newlands. Although, if you rubbed shoulders with these passionate ‘New Zealanders’, you may have noticed that they don’t say “fush end chups” in that feral Kiwi vernacular. For decades, travelling New Zealand teams have enjoyed significant local support in Cape Town – a portion of the Cape community who side with the All Blacks in test matches, and New Zealand franchises during Super Rugby.

Newlands consistently gets more bums on seats at Super Rugby and Currie Cup matches than any other rugby stadium in SA, because rugby tends to reach a larger and more diverse fanbase in the Mothercity. The coloured community boast some of the most die-hard rugby fans in the country. But within this community lies an interesting paradox – a group of fans who staunchly support the New Zealand teams that play against the Stormers, or the Springboks.

The roots of this support, are buried deep in our apartheid history. During the bad old days, non-whites were prevented from playing “the national sport”. The All Blacks on the other hand have been fielding Maori players for almost a century, and the New Zealanders (not their government or rugby administrators) were the strongest opponents to the Springboks’ all-white rugby policy. Since the first tour in 1921, Springbok tours to New Zealand were met with increasing protest and demonstration, until the eventual rugby boycott of the 1980s. (This proud history of New Zealand anti-apartheid rugby activism was recently captured in an excellent seven part documentary series called Have You Heard from Johannesburg that recently aired on SABC TV).

New Zealand Apartheid Activists

For fighting in the corner of those oppressed by the apartheid system, for all those years, the New Zealand franchises still enjoy support from many South Africans – especially those who were actively involved in the anti-apartheid struggle. Look at the images of Kiwi activists aggressively confronting the police in support of the cultural boycott, then add the fact that the Kiwis play some of the world’s best rugby and that, for a long time, rugby in South Africa was the preserve of white, Afrikaner nationalism and it’s easy to understand why large swathes of South Africa’s coloured, rugby-loving community still support the New Zealand teams. Especially considering that loyalty to a specific sports team, be it Manchester United or the All Blacks, does not simply wash out with a new dispensation.

Kiwi Rugby Protests

Today, many young fans insist that they just prefer the New Zealand product. The Crusaders for example – who hold seven Super Rugby titles – play a seductive brand of rugby. And they win, a lot. The Crusaders and Hurricanes are particularly popular in the underprivileged Cape communities, where they make a point of hosting regular coaching clinics whenever they stop over in the city. Whichever way you look at it, there are strong examples of loyalty returning loyalty. And it’s not necessarily a bad or “treasonous” thing, as some of the stauncher South African rugby supporters will have you believe.

Fortunately, the Stormers have won the hearts of the majority of Cape Town’s rugby census. With stars like Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Bryan Habana and new loose forward prodigy Siya Kolisi, it’s hard to say that Western Province rugby is not representative – although national government will be on SARU’s back for some time about what they perceive as a slow rate of transformation in the game. And while it’s impossible to please all the people all of time. With three wins out of three, the Stormers are at least giving their fans some compelling reasons to stick with them.

Interestingly enough, the biggest dispute currently being argued in Cape rugby circles is whether or not to transfer from Newlands to a new base at the Cape Town Stadium in Green Point. Last Thursday Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, and Western Province President, Tobie Titus, revealed that they have started the “process” which could result in the eventual move. Ironically, the biggest sticking point is the 92 rugby clubs governed by the Western Province – clubs which mostly come from underprivileged areas – that want rugby to stay at the historic Newlands ground, for all its sins.

*Images courtesy Have You Heard from Johannesburg by Clarity Films.

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RESPONSES (15)
  1. Phumlani says:

    I think it would also be important to note that the All Blacks don’t solely get support from the Cape coloured community but also boast a heavy fan base in the Eastern Cape. The under privileged rugby community doesn’t end with the Cape Coloureds, who also played hosts to the All Black Maouris when they toured down here because of the Apartheid policies. Otherwise nice one guy.

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  2. cnut says:

    Yep nothing quite like seeing Cape ‘Spanish’ spitting on black, coloured and white Blitz-bokke players in the RSa leg last year… or them holding pap-saks swearing at Habana or Aplon as they cross the line…

    Real fucking rocket scientists these twisted ignoramus’!

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  3. Pascal says:

    Enjoyed reading this. And ‘Have you heard from Johannesburg’ was one of the best things that’s been on SABC lately.

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  4. nero says:

    @cnut:
    Firstly, the distance between the stands and the field makes it impossible to spit on players. Secondly, you cannot take a papsak into Newlands. It’s obvious you are just making shit up.

    Also, maybe if the law didn’t force them to attend sub-standard schools they would have matriculated with the basic education needed to study rocket science. But, you probably wouldn’t know anything about that.

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  5. Don Dada says:

    Cnut – jy gaan op jou poes kry!

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  6. FongkongTiger says:

    ‘the amount of yellow-clad supporters’. Nope. You can count them, so it’s ‘the number of supporters’.

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  7. / says:

    Any cunt knows that the plural of ignoramus is ignoramii.

    Apart from one cnut.

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  8. cnut says:

    Really Nero?

    My company was hosting the Kenyan 7’s side in Wellington in their last year before it’s now moved to PE and you could get as close to the players as you like on both the tunnel and between games so pull the other one!

    I’ve regularly seen goon-bags smuggled in out of box into the gom stands too… so pull the other one there too!

    Embarrassed as a South African… and these chumps call themselves black like mine… pull the other one… Goms… and they’re freak-shows to every Kiwi person we’ve hosted in our box…

    Watching a group of Spanish falling over each other at the PE test all grins missing teeth and pretending to know the words to the Kiwi national anthem…

    Must be your brethren… not mine!

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  9. Phumlani says:

    Cnut please find somewhere else to be a sad man teeming with your own cultural and racial insecurities.

    There’s also a huge difference in the set up of 7’s tournaments and the 80 minute games i.e international tests, international league or domestic cups. The stadium set up definitely doesn’t allow people to get nearly close enough to the players to try and spit on them.

    Newlands security is really hectic on alcohol so I don’t know what pap sak you imagined seeing. On that note have you ever been to a game at Newlands?

    Your racial slurs and Uncle Tom mentality are not appreciated by most. I don’t get what it is that you’re getting off on returning the comment boards. But I suppose “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all. “

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  10. gunston says:

    cnut is beyond repair.Please don’t grant him the light of day to engage others in his mindless beliefs and piglike antics. He is a nobody and deserves no attention whatsoever. Other than that a superb article, thank you.

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  11. Spanish Fly says:

    LOLZ at everybody getting pissed off at cnut and the derision that he regurgitates. I hope he never changes and that he never stops commenting here.The ones getting all agitated at him are the ones that are very deservedly being taken for a poes.

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  12. The Blackfish says:

    don’t feed the trolls. eh.

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  13. Rob T says:

    People like to support winners and the NZ teams win a lot. Same reason why everyone supports Liverpool/Man U/Chelsea/Arsenal and not Norwich City or WBA…

    And while everyone’s wringing hands over the local support the NZ teams get, what about the amount of support the Bulls get from the local Afrikaner population? Now THAT is a disgrace!

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  14. FrankTheButcher says:

    Some of these comments are pretty embarrassing, never mind what this article is proposing.

    I do not think people in Cape Town support the Kiwi team because they produce a better “product”, that is not true at all. Neither, would I agree with the statement that only “staunch rugby supporters” think of it as treason.

    The reasoning be, actions speak louder than words. Kiwi supporting South Africans have a history at Newlands for behaving badly and booing the local opposition, which is definitely an indication that they do not necessarily support Kiwi teams, rather that,that kind of animosity positions them as against South African teams not for a particular team from New Zealand.

    Secondly, Kiwi supporting South Africans supports ANY kiwi Super Rugby franchise over the Stormers, not just the crusaders because of the “seductive nature” of the way they play.

    Lastly, the Apartheid left big scars all over South Africa, some of it will never heal, however, when the Bulls played in Soweto, the “Afrikaner population” as Rob likes to call it was wholly embraced by local Black South Africans and visa verse. Like I said these scars will take time to heal, however everyday, inch by inch people do heal, black South Africans pull up and support the Boks remembering the past but embracing the future and White South Africans embrace them as equal supporters.

    The Kiwi supporting South Africans, do not want to heal, they continue to reopen old wounds, not wanting to be part of the wider community. They are romanticized by Parlow, because they are not “youths” or activists that are fighting for something that Parlow is so desperately trying to identify here.

    No, many activist and youths wear green and gold, these guys are just plain bitter.

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  15. In defence of Cnut says:

    I was there!!!
    I was at the game where south africans booed and spat on south africans
    It was shocking, and it WAS a large section of ignorant people doing it.

    Rugby sevens final in PE, 2011.

    It was a huge group of “all blacks” who need to move on. Apartheid is over.
    Even after south africa lost the match they booed and jeered at them as they did a lap around the field after the game.

    It wasn’t in the spirit of the game, just poor sportsmanship.
    If you want, lets say the fact that they are colored is not a factor, lets just say they were a bunch of people being ombeskof and childish. I was there, I saw the volume of alcohol consumed throughout the day, I sat amongst them at the stadium.

    I’m sure if you were there too, you might believe what CNUT is saying and not jump to yell “racist” so quickly. I couldn’t believe what I saw that day (i’m not from PE)… There’s a “section” of bitter people stuck in the past that boo the springboks. You know, a section. The racists in Orania are a section. Etc.. etc.. etc.. There’s always two sides to a story, but people are so quick to jump to conclusions.

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