Newlands faithful boo Watson

By Ashfak Mohamed

Controversial Stormers loose forward Luke Watson was booed throughout his team's 43-33 win over English club Saracens at Newlands on Sunday.

In the early part of the game, Watson was booed by some sections of the crowd every time he touched the ball.

Half an hour into the game, when he collected the ball on the Stormers' 10-metre line and started running, there was a loud roar and booing. He slipped and conceded a penalty when caught in possession.

Watson has been an outspoken critic of former Springbok coach Jake White and hit the headlines for a controversial speech he made at a rugby function at UCT last year, when he was reported to have said he wanted to "vomit on the Springbok jersey". SA Rugby charged him with misconduct, but he was eventually cleared.

When he scored a try just after halftime, there was a mix of booing and cheering from the crowd.

After the match, Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus shrugged off the boos. "It is something that everybody here has different reactions to," he said. "When he scored the try, half cheered and half booed. If there are persons who would like to put their energy into something like that for 13 games, it is up to them.

"They must know that if we pick somebody inside the team, and he is on the park, then everything has been sorted out and the team is happy. If you are a real supporter, you will support the team and their decisions. I think it will fade away.

"I can tell you of a few people who have done much more wrong - if he did anything wrong - and they are playing now and are in dominant positions in SA Rugby. They are not getting booed when they are on TV and on the park. So we are happy with the way the team is performing, all 26 of them."

Stormers captain Jean de Villiers said the booing did not affect the players during the match. "I thought Luke played well," he said.

Watson's father, Cheeky, did not want to comment.

Erasmus was happy with his team's performance. "I think it was the kind of performance you want. It wasn't wonderful, it wasn't terrible either. We can be happy on the one hand that we beat them. On the other hand, there are a lot of things that we can work on."