Integrated Rugby

by | May 5, 2009 | Change, Culture | 0 comments

A couple of Saturday’s back I was at KES (King Edward VII School) in Houghton to watch their first team “The Reds” take on Jeppe Boys High – both government schools. KES won with some excellent school boy rugby.

I am no rugby guru but those in the know are saying The Reds this year are the best first team that KES has fielded for many years. Much of that maybe due to the new coach, Carl Spilhaus.

What struck me was that seven of the KES starting 15 were black players. Apparently all 15 are also boarders, but it was the integration of the team that caught my attention. Seeing that the team is so strong this year one can surmise that this is a team chosen on merit. And as such what a really super example of how integration can occur naturally when given time.

These boys were mostly born in 1991. They are children born after Nelson Mandela was released from jail and who started school well after the first democratic elections. If this team is an indication of what is happening in school rugby then we can say that it has taken 15 years, since the 1994 birth of the “new” SA, for integration to get through to matric level sport. If these 18 year olds (white and black) are given support and encouragement some of them can conceivably move on into provincial and eventually national rugby over the next five years. It will then have taken 20 years to achieve natural integration in rugby – just a generation! Without all the aggro that has accompanied the forced, accelerated integration at national level since 1994.

Was pushing integration, with its rumours that players haven’t earned their jerseys, really worth it?


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