Driving around Johannesburg this week one couldn’t help but notice the street pole posters highlighting the furore surrounding the Springbok squad for the Rugby World Cup.
Calls for boycotts of the team and a frantic bid to have the team barred from even heading to England for the showpiece have dominated the headlines.
After all this I’m inclined to just boycott the event in its entirety. I’ve lost interest before the first match has kicked off. Hell, the team hasn’t even left yet and I’m over it.
The issue of transformation in South African is a pertinent one and needs to be addressed by the powers that be. But why is there only ever really outcry and action when it comes to a South African team competing in an international tournament.
A time when the team needs support the most.
We saw the damage that was caused by the SMS saga during the cricket World Cup and how that eventually played out. It left South African cricket fans with a bad taste in their mouths and plenty of should-have, could-have, would-have scenarios in their minds.
You’ve got to feel for the group of players who now have to head to the biggest tournament in world rugby knowing that their country is divided. How are their hearts supposed to be in it – as put forward in a much-publicised television campaign – when the country they represent have differing views?
There will no doubt be attempts to try and unify the public before the squad departs. South Africa has a habit of popping champagne bottles before tournaments start. How often have we wished there were still dregs left in the bottle to drown our sorrows?
The pressure that Heineke Meyer faced when whittling down his squad to 31 players has been cranked up a few notches. If he fails there will be plenty of ‘I told you so’s’ and there will be some quarters who will delight in failure.
But what if we win the thing? What if, at the end of it all, Jean de Villiers is given the opportunity to lift the Webb Ellis Cup? Will South Africa react as they did in 1995?
I was too young to understand what was happening having just started Grade One. But by all accounts it was a special time to be a South African.
For me, that moment probably came when the opening day of the 2010 World Cup dawned and South Africans united to welcome the world to our shores.
The only sports that seem to have avoided the transformation issues are athletics and swimming. Given that it’s the clock who decides whether or not an athlete goes to a major championship. You either swim or run a qualifying time or you don’t go. You either throw or jump a certain distance or you stay at home.
For the rest of the codes there’s the juggling of a sensitive issue while also trying to find combinations that work in order to conquer the world. No mean feat.