A KwaZulu-Natal school rugby player has been banned by his school from the sport after being found guilty of racial abuse.
The Voortrekker High School, Pietermaritzburg, pupil had been playing in a first-team match against Pinetown Boys’ High at the weekend when players became involved in a brawl. This was followed by a racial taunt from the Voortrekker backline player.
Ray Naidoo, Pinetown Boys’ High headmaster, welcomed the sanction by Voortrekker High.
Naidoo said the sanction was not harsh, but hoped it would teach the pupil a lesson.
“We cannot tolerate such behaviour in school sport. He is a Grade 12 pupil, we only hope that he can learn from his mistake and move on,” he said.
Voortrekker said on Wednesday that the player’s ban, for the duration of his schooling, was part of a concerted effort to combat unsportsmanlike conduct at high school rugby matches.
“Voortrekker has for many years been known for the good, hard, clean rugby that we’ve played and such behaviour from coaches, players and parents will not be tolerated,” said headmaster Jan Nel.
He has also vowed to make sure that the school communicated with its supporters to ensure that abuse from the sidelines, whether targeted at players or the referees and linespeople on duty, did not occur.
Noel Ingle, KZN Schools Rugby Association chair, applauded the school for acting swiftly. He said this was the first racism issue since he started as chair in 2007.
“Any incident of racism is disappointing. We cannot afford any sort of racism in any part of society, least of all in school rugby.”
The incident came in the wake of a probe by the KZN Rugby Union into alleged racism after a brawl involving two KZN clubs – Jaguars Rugby Club and Richards Bay Rugby Club.
The Sydenham-based Jaguars claimed their match had been marred by “racial animosity”.
The rival team has, however, dismissed any racism claims.
A hearing scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed to next Wednesday.
Last Thursday, the hearing was postponed to Wednesday after the Jaguars could not attend the meeting in Richards Bay.
This week’s postponement came from Desmond Hibbert, the Richards Bay Rugby Club’s chairman, who asked for a postponement as he had business engagements in Johannesburg this week.
KZN Rugby Union chairman, Graham MacKenzie, said they were also investigating a charge of rough play in the match against both sides as several red cards had been issued.