White Players to Represent South Africa Team in Rugby

by sabrinabelanger on September 9, 2015 - 4:57pm

In the article entitled “Lack of black players in South Africa team puts race under spotlight before World Cup”(TheGuardian, August 13th 2015), the author, David Smith argues that racial inequalities persist in the world of sports, specifically rugby. In effect, he exposes the debate taking place regarding the quite small proportion of black people in South Africa rugby team.  He begins by pointing out the fact that the racial diversity illustrated in the World Cup ads is not representative of reality. The author continues by stating with irony that when South Africa won the World Cup in 2007, there were only 2 black players part of the team, while the country counts less than 10% whites in its population. Even if there is a lot of excellent black players in training, there seems to be a blockage in the system. The author also points out the lack of intervention from rugby authorities, and cites that according to the country’s sport minister, change has to start at the education level. He goes on by approving observations of some commentators, according to which the situation of racial injustice in rugby is a reflection of some other areas of public life in the country. Smith concludes by mentioning that issues of racial inequality will still persist as the South American team remains mostly white.


Response : 

In my view, this article is quite weak. To begin with, the author provides his readers clear explanation about the current situation of South Africa’s rugby team. In effect, Smith described in detail the issue, making many links with the country’s history of racial discrimination. The author dives into the very delicate subject of racism when pointing out the inequalities some players go through only because of their skin colour. He demonstrates the absurdity of qualifying players as inferior because they are black, which makes sense. For this, the author displays strength according to me. It is an assumption that race revolves around skin pigmentation. In effect, ‘race’ is subjective and as certain people believe race is identifiable by appearances, others rely on other factors. We can connect this to a statement Curnoe makes in his article :  ‘‘Races have been identified on ecological, geographical, climatic, physiological and even seasonal criteria’’. However, unconsciously, Smith, by making a constant contrast between white and black players, and by referring to terms such as ‘white mentality’ and ‘racial reconciliation’, enhances the fact that ‘race’ does exist, and can only be identified by one’s skin tone. This can push readers into believing that the debate between ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’ is what race is about, which in my opinion weakens the purpose of the article. 


References : 

Smith, D. (2015, August 13) ‘‘Lack of black players in South Africa team puts race under spotlight before World Cup’’. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2015/aug/13/south-africa-racism-rugby-world-cup-heyneke-meyer


Curnoe, D. (2015). Human Races : Biological Reality or Cultural Delusion? A. Nouvet, 381-204-LA gr.00545: The Myth of Race and the Reality of Racism.



According to your description of the article, I agree that the article by David Smith is weak. I am also very supportive of your response. If we aim at eliminating racism, we must first start by eliminating the term race. This term created by European anthropologists makes no sense; according to genetics, humans are all part of the same race. I find it ironic that this article denounces racism, yet the author uses the term race to separate Africans of different colors into subcategories. If we truly want to eliminate racism, we must start unifying people and see each other as one. I would also like to mention that David Smith does not seem to have taken into consideration player skill sets. I am a very big sports fan and recognize that racism is present in many sports. Although some say the South African Rugby organization is racist, I don’t think we should jump to this conclusion right away. I believe sports team do not give importance to race, and are simply looking to win. If a white player is better than one who is black, he deserves his place on the team no matter the racial demography of the country. We must also take into consideration player chemistry. It is well known in sports science that players with similar cultures and backgrounds are better when playing together and have a greater output in game. Although I believe player skill and chemistry may be the reason why the South African rugby team is mainly consisted of white players, I recognize that racism might also be a deciding factor.

Being South African does not necessarily mean that you have to be black and a lot of people seem to ignore that. I chose to respond to this article because I was interested in what arguments someone could possibly come up with to claim that there are “too many” white players on the South Africa team. There is no mention of the player’s skills in this article, which essentially should be the deciding factor of whether or not the players make the team. I would understand why some may claim this observation at racist, considering the country counts less than 10% of their population to be white. We can agree that it’s unusual, ironic even that there were only 2 black players on the team. The question remains whether we can call this racial injustice, when in reality your skin pigmentation should have nothing to do with your racial classifications. In “Race without Color”, Diamond mentioned “many anthropologists today conclude that one cannot recognize any human races at all” but Smith seemed to point of that the white South Africans and the black South Africans are of different races. Every South African, whether white or black, should have the same opportunities to play on the rugby team. As a sports fan, I honestly find the most ridiculous part of this is thinking that someone would deliberately have a weaker team because of racist beliefs. Was there racism involved in the South African rugby team, or was it just matters of which players were the most skilled?

To start with, your post was really interested me to read! I saw several of articles but this is the most attractive! Anyways, while reading your entire article, I was quite convinced of what you explained in the text. As you argued, David's article is very weak. As someone studying the difference of gender and sex, I could have totally agreed with you. How can we differentiate people just by their skin color? We should always think of what’s their environment or such of aspects. David, just by writing a text, he was making his own raced world. However, if we change our view, something changes! Here is an example. This is one of subject that I could have deeply understood. In sport, much discrimination happens. Such as gendered discrimination or either, as yours, racism. I do think that these are the two dominated discriminations. I don't know if you ever heard about women trying to fit in to many men's dominated sports. We say that women are trying to fit in it, because the society was just so centered by men. However, think differently, one view could change the dominated views in this world.

Also, some of people surrounding gender problems just ignore it because they think that "It was like this from the beginning". However, I think differently, more it was been destroyed, I think more we should fix it to get its nature back. It is the same situation as racism. Because just people tried to avoid this problems from the beginning, until now the problems stays the same.

It is very possible that David's opinion was from our destroyed way of viewing this world.

Hi, I find that your article attacks well the subject of racism, through a concrete example. Good job!

I chose your article because it has a close parallel with gender. I agree with you when you said that Smith's article is weak, arguing that race is not just between ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’. Indeed, Natives, Asians, Jews are rarely mentioned in discussions of race. This is comparable to gender problems, which are not just between men and women. Indeed, the society has created one stereotype of both men and women and others are marginalized. Homosexuals and transgenders, who often experience higher level of social pressure, are often left out when discussing gender. As people would generally equal skin colour with race, they would generally equal sex with gender. Even though the difference between sex and gender is subtle, but gender is the identity of an individual that defines the way he/she acts. (For more information, consult: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/232363.php) Thus, your article points out an important confusion.
I think why racism or sexism exists is because people base their comprehension of the world on a model that dictates "wrongly" what one should do. In the perspective of race, the "white world" ideology dominates and in the perspective of gender, it is the patriarchal world view that causes the inequalities between men and women. (For further explanation: https://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/03/21/faq-isnt-the-patriar...)

Furthermore, I'd like to add the fact that gender invisibly blocks certain individuals from certain privileges just like race. In your article, race limits black men from being part of the rugby team. In my Gendered World View Class, I learnt about some shocking facts: more than 50% students in universities are female, roughly 50% of the graduates who find a job are women and the percentage of women in every higher level of work diminishes to about 15% of women working as corporate directors.
As for whether racism is the cause of the composition of the rugby, I found some numbers that have close tendency with the statics of women at work. I will let you interpret them.
Wikipedia shows that in 2014, South Africa's population is composed of: 80.2% Black African, 8.8% Coloured, 8.4% White, 2.5% Asian.

Have a great day!