Adriaan Strauss will be facing more than the Irish when he leads the Springbok rugby squad on to the field at Newlands next weekend: the ANC Youth League has vowed to disrupt the Test series because of a lack of transformation in the sport.
The league’s secretary-general, Njabulo Nzuza, said the three-Test series would be disrupted by protests, but would not reveal which games would be targeted.
The league’s threat coincides with the 35th anniversary of the Springbok tour to New Zealand in 1981, which was marked by mass protests and the dropping of flour bombs from an aircraft over one of the Test stadiums.
Nzuza said the recent Bok squad announced by Allister Coetzee had done little for transformation.
“ We believe more must be done. It’s not enough to have black players included, only for them to sit on the bench - we want to see them on the field.”
The league said the SA Rugby Union had not taken its demands for transformation “seriously”. Saru had not replied to the memorandum of demands they had handed to it on May 11.
The stalemate between Saru and the league has called into question the safety of fans who plan to watch the series.
“We will forge ahead with disrupting rugby games,” said Nzuza.
He would not be drawn on which games the league would target, saying only that ‘certain’ games involving the Springboks would be disrupted.
Saru's general manager for corporate affairs, Andy Colquhoun, rejected the league’s claims that Saru had ignored their memorandum.
“We have met the ANCYL to discuss it and continue to engage with them,” he said.
Nzuza denied their fight for change in sport was a publicity stunt ahead of the hotly contested local government election.
“We will take criticism - even the youth of 1976 was criticised - but the fight for transformation in our sports is one we will not shy away from.”
Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula said last month that he would not support sporting bodies that were lagging behind in transformation.
This week, civil rights group AfriForum and trade union Solidarity said they would pursue legal avenues to force the minister to abandon quotas in sports.
Dr Dirk Hermann, chief executive of Solidarity, said the minister had no right to interfere in the selection of players.
“The National Sport and Recreation Act makes no provision for government interference in the selection of players,” he said.
The tri-series matches will begin at Newlands in Cape Town next Saturday.
The second Test will be at Emirates Airlines Park in Joburg, and the final match will be at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Fans have been told that all precautions have been taken to ensure their safety.
The SAPS said there would be security measures in place.
National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said: “For security reasons, I can’t divulge which security measures will be deployed, but it’s a given that security would be catered for.”
Thelo Wakefield, president of Western Province Rugby Union, which owns Newlands, said: “I sincerely hope the ANCYL threats don’t materialise, as I believe Saru has got the message and is attending to transformation issues.”
He said plans were afoot to guarantee the safety of everyone at their stadium, including members of the league, should they decide to stage a demonstration.
Annemie Bester, media manager at Golden Lions Rugby Union, owners of Emirates Airlines Park, said they could not comment on security measures, as that function fell within the ambit of Saru when the national team was involved.
Chantal du Pisani, chief executive of Nelson Mandela Stadium operators Access Management, said they would be working with all their partners, including Sara, to ensure the safety of all those who would be attending the match. He would not be drawn on specific security details.