CAPE TOWN - THIS week, I called the Wallabies wimps. Their own player, scrum-half Tate McDermott, had publicly stated how soft his teammates were in losing three successive Tests to the All Blacks.
I called the Wallabies chumps for winning three matches in 12 in the past year after losing the World Cup quarter-final to England 40-16, the very same England that lost 32-12 to the Springboks in the final.
I wrote that Sunday's Rugby Championship was a Test of champ versus chump.
I wrote that the expectation should be that the best team in the world, the Boks, should beat a team ranked as low as seventh, even if it was Australia, and that it shouldn't matter where the game was played.
I backed Siya Kolisi's world champions to pump the Wobblies. And then white South Africa came out to play. I was told that I lacked class, that I was a disgrace, that I did not speak on behalf of South African rugby fans.
Respect Australia, Keo, was consistent. For every one who delighted in an unfollow, I delighted in a block. They are Twitter's greatest accessories.
There were numerous apologies to Australians that I did not reflect the opinion of sporting and rugby South Africa.
“We are better than this,”said one tweet. The royal “we” came out to play so many times: “We are not THIS guy … he does not represent US.”
Upper case for them; lower case for me in an insult.
A few days earlier, I had called out Proteas coach Mark Boucher for calling his national teammate Paul Adams a “brown s***” in their playing days. I wrote that Boucher had refused to understand the hurt and damage he had caused and that he should not be in charge of the South African national cricket team.
Cue my time line: I was branded anti-white. I was told to read Ali Bacher, who had asked what more the public of South Africa wanted after Boucher had apologised to Adams for what Boucher had said was “Adams's perceived truth”.
I was told I was anti-white and anti-Boucher. I was also told I was a disgrace for not backing Boucher. And then I was inundated with the stock-standard-white-privilege parting line: “There is more to this than it looks.”
The indignation continued. Why could I not move forward? Why was I promoting racism?
“For God's sake,” wrote one. “It has been 25 years and still you want black players picked in the national team who are quota players.”
The abuse was unrelenting, on my time lines and into an email inbox, the address of which has always been public ([email protected]).
Adams, the person and cricketer, was never mentioned. Only Boucher and a defence for him. There was little sympathy for the wronged individual, and only empathy for the one who had wronged him.
I really did expect a response from the chairperson of Cricket South Africa, Lawson Naidoo, when I questioned his leadership around the handling of the Boucher/Adams saga. He was nowhere to be heard or seen.
I also expected a bit more from the mainstream South African cricket media in relation to Boucher. Alas, there was nothing.
And then I called the Wallabies wimps and my time line exploded.
The only reason I didn't trend on Twitter was because Temba Bavuma, the Proteas captain, was trending.
Bavuma was trending because the Proteas had lost an ODI series to Sri Lanka. “Quotas … transformation … Bavuma.”
The odd tweet reminded the mob that Bavuma was back in South Africa injured and didn't play in the series-deciding defeat. It meant nothing on Twitter, and it meant even less on my time line.
What mattered was that I had called the Wallabies wimps, and collectively South Africans were queueing to apologise to Australians on my behalf.
If only those same South Africans had made such an effort to apologise to Paul Adams on behalf of Mark Boucher or Temba Bavuma.
If only …
*Keohane is an award-winning sports journalist and a regular contributor to Independent Media Sport