SA Rugby shamefully capitulates to intimidation

SA Rugby shamefully capitulates to intimidation.

The decision of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) to withdraw its Mzanzi Challenge invitation to the Tel Aviv Heats is disgraceful and frankly embarrassing. It is appalling that the governing body of SA rugby has caved in without a fight to those whose sole aim is to boycott Israel in every possible forum, even to the detriment of South Africa itself.

Threats, bullying and intimidation have of course always been the modus operandi of the BDS movement and so it was in this case as well, with SARU members even reportedly receiving death threats. Such thuggish tactics are a direct attack not how rugby is administered in South Africa but on democracy itself. Instead of taking a firm, principled stand, however, SARU capitulated immediately. As if that was not bad enough, it has since sought to justify its stance by citing concerns over safety and security to players, spectators and all others concerned should Israel be allowed to participate. Far from being any kind of “justification”, this simply hands an easy victory to those who shamelessly rely on threats to cause violent disruptions and on instilling fear into those whom they wish to cow into acceding to their demands.

Having taken a decision that constitutes outright discrimination and by its very nature causes divisiveness and ill-feeling, SARU further makes the preposterous claim that it was acting in the interests of maintaining “social cohesion”.

A few years ago, BDS conducted a virulent campaign aimed at preventing Miss SA Lalela Mswane from participating in the Miss Universe pageant in Israel. To her great credit, Lalela stood firm against these bully-boy tactics and went on to represent our country with honour and success. What a pity that in the face of similar pressure SARU failed to display the same backbone.

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