SA Rugby recently unveiled the Springbok kit for #RWC2019. Photo: Springboks on facebook
SA Rugby recently unveiled the Springbok kit for #RWC2019. Photo: Springboks on facebook
IOL Sport's rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen.
IOL Sport's rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen.

JOHANNESBURG – When are some local fans going to realise the national team’s performance has nothing to do with a Springbok and where it is placed on the jersey?

Sure, our national rugby team are called the Springboks and the Sevens side are referred to as the BlitzBoks but does it matter whether the little antelope is on the left chest, right chest or the sleeve? I think not. And there are simply too many “fans” and former players out there who still feel they have been done an injustice because the Bok is not where they want it to be, where they believe it should be.

Come on, get real!

It was astounding to read all the comments on social media last week when the jersey manufacturer and Saru released pictures of the jersey the national team will wear at the World Cup.

It is really now time that we moved on from all the talk and negativity around where the famous leaping Bok appears on the green and gold pull-over.

There were still fans and former players expressing their disbelief and anger that the Bok was not on the left breast, but on the sleeve, and this after the Boks’ jerseys at the two previous World Cups were subjected to the same restrictions.

World Rugby dictates that if unions have more than one “logo” on their jersey one of them has to “step aside” to make way for the Rugby World Cup logo every four years. In South Africa’s case there is the King Protea badge with the words “South Africa” and “RUGBY” to consider as well as the leaping Springbok.

So, with the official World Cup logo on the right breast, and the King Protea badge on the left, the Springbok has to move, and that’s to the sleeve. In the middle of the chest is the jersey maker’s name, in this case, Asics.

It’s simple and easy to understand. The Bok isn’t “missing” as some fans have suggested in social media posts.

And anyway, does it matter where the Bok is on the jersey? It’s not going to make a player perform better, or feel more or less proud and determined, or honoured that he is representing his country.

One fan said: “This is not a #Springboks jersey; it is a Protea jersey. Asics you are jinxing us.”

Really, as if the Boks would have beaten Japan in Brighton in their opening game of the 2015 World Cup if the leaping Bok had been on the players’ chests and not the sleeves.

Another said: “This is shameful! How can any TRUE Springbok wear this with pride?”

Well, it is shameful that some fans actually think the players don’t feel an immense amount of pride when they pull on the national rugby jersey, and that they do so to make you, the fans, happy. They play for you and their country, not for a leaping animal. They play for South Africa.

How refreshing at least that so many others, probably and hopefully the majority, were so excited and happy with the look of the jersey. “I’m going to own my first #Springboks jersey; it’s truly represented now and the jersey is beautiful.”

It is indeed a good-looking rugby jersey. But it is also just a piece of cloth and will have no bearing on how well or poorly the Springboks will play in Japan. And it should also not make any difference to whether fans support the Boks or not. Whether the “Bok” is on the chest or sleeve, or on the shorts, or nowhere at all, really matters little in the greater scheme of things.

@jacq_west


The Star

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