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When Days Are Dark

When Days Are Dark

by Dan Gillespie / 14.07.2010

The Tri-Nations kicked off to a disappointing start this weekend. After conquering all and sundry during last year’s edition (apart from that game at Brisbane that we won’t mention), everyone expected us to roll over the All Blacks this weekend. FAIL.

Not only did we not beat them, we were pretty much destroyed by them. By the end of the game most of the senior players looked as though they had just had an appointment with their proctologist- and he’d run out of KY. The New Zealanders put four tries past us to win 32-12. We didn’t even cross the whitewash once.

At least now we’ve lost. I wouldn’t have been able to deal with winning at Eden Park (where we haven’t won since 1937) and then losing when the Kiwis tour here. Anything but that.

What made the 32-12 loss even more unbearable, though, was not the result. It wasn’t even the fact that Bakkies Botha acted like a doos, and managed to get himself a yellow card and a 9 week ban, due to a history of idiotic transgressions.

No, it was what I saw on Facebook, after I switched off the TV, that really pissed me off.

I live in Cape Town, so it’s fair to say that I have some coloured friends. The majority of them are completely rational. They harbour no ill will towards anyone, and get on with their lives just like everybody else.

However, as soon as the Tri-Nation starts, a small proportion of my bruin bros turn into rabid revolutionaries set on continuing the fight against the evils of apartheid. Ja, I am talking about that slice of predominantly coloured people who still support the All Blacks instead of the Springboks. And a fair few of these, as the Dude once described as: “human paraquats”, were voicing their joy at the Boks’ defeat. This is when I lose all respect for my mates.

I get why your dad may have supported the All Blacks during the1980s. I fully understand not wanting to get behind the team who were the poster boys for the blond, blue-eyed Afrikaner uber-mesnch of the apartheid state. But, 16 years after the sport was de-segregated, and following the selection of numerous (not one or two) black and coloured players for the Springboks, surely you can get over yourselves and support the national rugby team?

Why do they do it? I don’t see these same guys getting behind the Australian cricket team, yet the Proteas have a similarly chequered racial history. It seems to me that my friends are not actually that concerned about the racially dodgy background of Springbok rugby. Rather, they support the All Blacks because it is easier to do so.

While the Boks have been up and down over the past decade, the side from New Zealand have always been at, or near, the top of the IRB rankings. Maybe the only reason they support the Kiwis is that, nine times out of ten, they’ll be on the winning side. It’s the same reason that half of the Cape Flats support either Arsenal or Manchester United instead of getting behind Santos, Ajax or Golden Arrows. And lord knows, with all these new, gigantic temples to FIFA standing empty, we could use some steady support for our local teams, but I digress.

I wish I could say that their support of the All Blacks is an attempt to throw their weight purely behind excellence and question the rather dubious link between sport and nationalism. But I don’t think the majority South African All Black supporters have interrogated the subject that deeply. I think it’s just easier to get behind a team that never (or more accurately these days, rarely) loses. I think it has become a comfortable and nostalgic default position for a lot of coloured rugby fans who may still feel that the game is ruled by a white, Afrikaans elite. But surely with the plethora of coloured and African players wearing the Green and Gold, on merit alone, and Pieter De Villiers at the helm, those “old” ideas are due a re-think.

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RESPONSES (23)
  1. Anonymous says:

    i get the impression this was inspired by the facebook updates more than the game, of which you seem to have minimal knowledg.

    so, when are we officially looking at changing it to MAHALA: BECAUSE I WOULDN’T PAY FOR THIS SHIT.

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  2. Andy says:

    first one’s always a hater… no substance to the criticism just the internet equivalent of a bowel purge

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  3. Anonymous says:

    @ Anonymous:

    Don’t be a poes.
    Also – learn to spell.

    Nice piece Dan.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    @ Andy:

    “bowel purge” is too kind. More like a brain fart.

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  5. scout says:

    Dan mate i feel your criticism of people supporting the All Blacks is way too harsh and aggressive. Firstly; I myself am an All Black supporter not because I’m black and because my father used to, it’s because of what is still going on in th South African rugby system. The system might have changed it’s ways of biased but the social ills of the past are still entrenched within the South African rugby system. Secondly; the All Blacks play a great brand of rugby which is why i love the sport. A free flowing game! that’s what’s awesome about them is that they are versatile enough to play all brands of rugby yet have mastered the best type! Thirdly; You have know idea what it’s like living in the supposedly desegregated system, cause it’s still a huge ass farce. I played school rugby and have attended matches all over the country and hate the hate that gets thrown in my direction on the basis of skin colour. It still fucking happens! I’d rather support a team with a fully integrated system and not one or two good players and the other players of colour making it because of a quota that needs to met. look guy it’s always going to be a complex issue to address we’ve only had 16 years what you were you like at the age of 16? otherwise nice writing and excuse mine.

    Be easy guy.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    No comment

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  7. joe says:

    jeex the continuum of ever cycling racism..could i fairly mention then that bafana bafana are the exact antithesis of the so called rugby and cricket selectors.!one can never call a spade a spade in this country,it all ends up being politically correct….makes me sick

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  8. Andy says:

    nice pic though. How flippen depressed do those boks look? Habana on the verge of tears

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  9. Andy says:

    Nooit Joe… the race debate might be tiring for you. But I don’t think anyone is being racist on this thread and in this article. I just think we all have extremely divergent experiences depending on which side of the apartheid divide we grew up on. So what may seem like a “continuum of ever cycling racism” to you might constitute an important debate and exchange of ideas for someone else.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    this is some fuck solid sports writing if i’ve ever seen any

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  11. Filthy Nitpicker says:

    was that a compliment? fuck solid sounds good to me

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  12. Nico says:

    Really enjoyed the article but i do have one criticism:
    “But surely with the plethora of coloured and African players wearing the Green and Gold,” Aren’t all springbok players African?

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  13. G says:

    I’m a relatively typical cape coloured (model c schooled I’ll concede, and grew up everywhere from crawford and woodstock to hout bay). And I’m the biggest Bok fan you’ll ever meet – always have been. I played rugby at Craven Week level when I was younger – and I definitely recall experiencing some old boys’ club racist undercurrents in those circles. I’ve just always figured that the best way to shut them up is to outplay them. Having said that – the overwhelming majority of Afrikaaners I know are wonderful people. When these poeste that support the All Blacks go around saying they do so because of our country’s sketchy past, it’s a load of shit – NZ has always had racism issues of its own. To believe otherwise is just naive. By choosing to desert your own team, all you’re doing is allowing those old racist fackers to win. I’ve always respected the All Black team itself – they do play great rugby – but they’re nowhere near as effective as our boys when it counts – and that’s all that matters.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    @Filthy Nitpicker
    – yes that was a compliment. I think the article raises an interesting point, even though it is a point that will be mis-read and blown out of proportion by the crowd on this comment board.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    It’s always easy to make a link to racism for any debate and issue in this country. So yes, I’m coloured and yes, I support the All Blacks. Does that mean anything other than the fact that I struggle to move a sporting allegiance that was developed more than 16 years ago? I know English people who arrive in SA and from day 1 support the Boks but I know others who will never support the Boks even though they have Naturalised.
    So tell me Dan, what provincial team do you support? If it’s the Sharks and you live in Johannesburg, I bet you that you wear the Sharks shirt to Ellis Park. It’s the same as asking a Liverpool supporter to switch over their support to Manchester United! Come on – you are asking for a Leopard to change his spots.
    Alliances are made and formed when young and some of us just battle to change it. I see that they gave up on wanting to convert gay guys to straight because it’s a “disease”. So maybe you should get the hint and stop trying to convert me to being a Bok supporter.
    And yes – I am a patriotic South African. That’s why I am still here – despite my Bok supporter friends moving to Australia because South Africa is going to hell in a hand-basket!

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  16. Anonymous says:

    i think the point Dan was trying to make is slightly grander than individual gripes about what team who supports

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Ah and the great South African talent at making everything racially loaded comes into play yet again. Firstly, why must be it obligatory for ANYONE to support their country’s sporting teams? Yes, yes – patriotism, nation building, blah, blah, blah. But apart from these relics of America’s Founding Fathers why it is so unthinkable that someone, somewhere might actually want to support a team that is, gasp, BETTER THAN THEIR NATIONAL ONE. Sacrilegious, I know. And ah, of Mr Gillespie’s 4 coloured friends, 2 are siding with the Springboks. If half of his “bruin” friends are siding with them well then one can sweepingly say that all coloured okes do. It’s flawless logic.

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  18. Siya says:

    When people say they don’t support the Springboks becuase of race issues and they would rather support New Zealand or Australia have they forgotten how marginalised the Maoris and Aborigines are in those countries up to this day.

    I can respect the people who say they support New Zealand purely based on their rugby style. However I will never respect ignorance and entertain race relations. Please my people, you need to emancipate your minds and free yourselves from such ignorance. If we want South Africa to progress we can never live in the past how the past is what will shape our future so please move on…or create your own colonial state elsewhere not in this country. When you reason and think along racial lines you are no different from the people you accuse of racism or racist acts.

    A Black and proud Bok Supporter for the progression of my country.

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  19. Proteus says:

    Sport, sport, sport! (ahem) Sorry, seems I had a hairball.

    I was under the impression that Mahala was a hip site that heaved chewable content into our lives. Movies. Street culture. Music. Literature. Surf. Cool kids. Not so cool kids. Indulgent travel articles. Grimy nightlife scenes. Photography and the erudite discussion thereof. Andsoforth.

    Now, I realise that in the context of the current World Cup warp spasm that it must certainly raise hits on those stat counters that Andy Davis et al must keep a beady eye on, but must we face a deluge of sport-related articles?

    What the fuck?

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  20. wow says:

    @Proteus
    Coloureds supporting the All Blacks and the reasons for that are pretty chewable in my book. There’s a bit of history in there, cultural differences, and probably a few other things that I can’t pick up.

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  21. Proteus says:

    @wow

    Fair enough, but does the prevalence of sport not smack of meatheaded content?

    Until fairly recently (read: the World Cup), the kind of content here appealed to people who largely couldn’t have given a toss about sport.

    I call mainstream, and choose elsewhere.

    Goodbye, Mahala.

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  22. G says:

    Goodbye, Proteus.

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  23. Stephen says:

    Quite frankly I cant stand these South African All Black supporters. I had the misfortune of working with them – horrible experience.

    They are just as bad as those South Africans waving the old flag.

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