Rugby in South Africa is a sport littered with racism controversy and in a way serves as a lingering legacy of a tragic past.
A video circulating currently on social media shows Spingbok winger Makazole Mapimpi being snubbed by fellow teammates in a post match celebration after the 49-3 annihilation of Italy at the Shizuoka Stadium has sparked outrage with fans noting it smirks of racism.
Six white players appear to be excluding Makazole Mapimpi from their celebrations following the victory over Italy.
The video has triggered a massive storm back home with huge claims of racism within the Springbok team
This comes hot on the heels of racist allegations and assault back home levelled against another Springbok player Eben Etzebeth who is playing in the World Cup for South Africa.
Rugby in South Africa has a painful history with racism and Etzebeth’s case has roped in the South African Human Rights Commission enquiry on behalf of his alleged victims.
Pieter-Steph du Toit and coach Rassie Erasmus have come out in defence of the racism row within the Springboks squad.
“Those fanning the flames of racism are uninformed about the traditions, culture and conventions of rugby. This Springbok team might not win the World Cup, but they certainly aren’t a bunch of racists” argued Pieter du Toit.
Coach Erasmus on the other hand defended the team unity what he termed as the tradition of the “Bomb Squad” celebration who huddle together after the game after their purpose for getting on the field has been achieved.
The coach said the Boks call the replacements the ‘Bomb Squad’, as they “either come in and fix it when it is not going well on the park or it is a false alarm and maybe they don’t even get onto the park”.
The alleged victim Mampimpi in video footage on Twitter and in his native Xhosa came out in defense of the tradition of the team.
“In the team we have what we call the Bomb Squad, made up of players who start from the bench. They have their own chants and calls.”
“As you see what happened yesterday… normally after a game, we shake hands with the opposition. So, at the time where you see the bomb squad meet up, they were about to call out their chant.”
“As I was walking after the handshakes, I saw the Bomb Squad in a huddle and realised it’s just them, and I retreated. Otherwise there’s nothing to it, we’re united.” explained Mampimpi
The six white players in the video were all replacements as opposed to Mampimpi who started the match and notched his 11th try in as many matches in national team colours.
By Gerald Dandah