Cape Town – Controversial rugby player Luke Watson has publicly apologised for a racist outburst five years ago.
The captain of the new EP Kings Super 15 franchise was for years loved as the son of the anti-apartheid rugby campaigner Cheeky Watson, but was equally reviled by the primarily white rugby establishment.
This reached unprecedented levels of hatred when, in October 2008, Watson was reported as saying: “Rugby in SA is rotten to the core and is again run by Dutchmen.”
In the subsequent brouhaha, Watson denied saying the words, but on 567 Cape Talk, speaking to host Udo Carelse on SportsTalk on Sunday night, he said: “It is the one thing in my life that I regret more than anything.
“In a heated moment, I took out my anger, all the hurt and tough times I’ve been through in my life, and … I used those words.”
Watson said he was “deeply ashamed and embarrassed” as he had “loads” of Afrikaners as friends and supporters.
“It’s still something that I wrestle with today… I could not be more opposed to venomous talk like that.”
Asked if he stood by his sentiments, if not the word “Dutchmen”, he said: “Do I believe that there is still a massive need for transformation in South African rugby? Yes.
“Do I believe that South African rugby is still controlled by white people, and that black people are not afforded the opportunities that they should be afforded, and the black community is not being invested in in the way it should be? Yes.
“But the word ‘Dutchmen’ will never leave my mouth again.”
Watson admitted saying he had to “keep myself from vomiting on” the Springbok rugby jersey – with similar motivations.
He further said playing in the Bok team, only after political intervention, had also been a mistake.
“In hindsight, I wouldn’t have gone,” he said. “It was completely incorrect… here was this kid being forced on them. It was awkward for Jake (White), it was awkward for John (Smit), it was awkward for me. It was not a great start to a dream of mine to play for the national side. And from there it just got worse.” – Cape Argus