DURBAN - There is a reason that the All Blacks do not often come to Cape Town. It may be an unwritten reason, but the fact is, come Saturday, there will be a pretty decent portion of the crowd donning black jerseys.
Of course, there is nothing wrong having the opposition bring fans over, but that won’t be the case. These will be South Africans supporting the All Blacks. A phenomenon that has a long and pretty dark history in this country.
The belief is that the so-called Cape Crusaders today are supporting New Zealand because they hate the Springboks and do not believe the national rugby team is representative of them, and that it is racist.
I don’t think it is all that cut and dry. No doubt there will be people, across the country, that still hold grudges against the bygone Bok era that was exclusionary, however, that must be a small minority.
In fact, there are interviews with young Capetonians circulating around; them, wearing their All Black jerseys, singing and greeting the New Zealanders, but never once mentioning the racist past of the Boks.
Times change, as do customs and practices. The Boks are a huge driving force in transformation of sport and although there is miles to go, they cannot be called exclusionary anymore.
Back in 1970s when there was much furore from the international community surrounding South Africa’s rugby team, anyone who was not part of the white minority, could hardly be blamed for not supporting the Boks.
I think the seed was planted back then, and an All Black support group grew in Cape Town because of apartheid, but today’s Cape Crusaders are not simply supporting the team that is not the Boks - although many who get their hackles up would like to think so.
Simply asking them why they support New Zealand provides the answer as clear as possible - they like their style of rugby, and again, who can blame them for that? Supporting a team is a complicated thing.
We, in South Africa, as much as any population in any nation, usually support teams in our local geography. I am from Durban, I support the Sharks. I am from South Africa, I support the Springboks.
However, I am not from Manchester, but I do support Manchester United, even though I have never even been to Manchester. So, geography is not the be all, and end all of it.
However, my grandfather was from Manchester, and my father is a huge United fan, so is it so strange that I am also one?
In the Cape, those young Cape Crusaders probably also had grandfathers, fathers, family in general, that had a very good reason to support the All Blacks, so now that they keep that alive, is it so strange?
Their reasoning may be different, but their support stays strong
I have had no reason to stop supporting United, in fact, they are getting back to their best this season, making me an even more ardent fan. The All Blacks have never been down, they are great to watch, and seemingly always winning.
If your family history supported the All Blacks for political reasons, but those political reasons no longer exist, are you really just going to wash your hands with that team? If you are, then you are actually not a true fan.
It may fly in the face of our passionate Springbok fans, but the Cape Crusaders are entitled to support whoever they please. The actual issue is when the Bok fans get angry and forceful about it. Telling people what to think, and who to support, sounds a lot like an old South Africa mentality.