England rugby player tells of racial abuse on SA tour
Accusations of racism surface just as SA Rugby highlights the progress it has made in transformation
On the eve of SA Rugby announcing “a dramatic gear change” in its transformation progress‚ an England player revealed he and coach Eddie Jones were racially abused while on tour in SA in 2018.
Ellis Genge, a non-playing squad forward, told the BBC he‚ Jones‚ and other squad members were racially abused after one of the Tests. He did not specify if it was in Johannesburg‚ Bloemfontein or Cape Town‚ or whether they had laid a complaint.
“When we went on the SA tour in 2018 I remember after a game we were walking through one of the tunnels and they started hurling racist abuse at myself and a few of the other ethnic boys and Eddie himself‚” Genge said.
“It is still very rife‚ especially in sport. Look‚ you can’t control that yourself‚ you just sort of need to put the message out there. Like Raheem Sterling [England and Manchester City footballer] said‚ if you have got a platform‚ you can use it. It’s something that needs to be stamped out.”
Genge was interviewed on Tuesday in the aftermath of the destruction of slave trader Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol in England over the weekend. The statue was ripped from its plinth and rolled down the street before being dumped in the Avon River.
Genge‚ who is from Bristol‚ supported the action and suggested rugby had some way to go.
“The issue with rugby is that it has been a white man’s game for a number of years and there’s not really any black coaches or ethnic coaches, especially here in England‚” he said, adding: “I’d love to see black coaches thriving in this game.”
Meanwhile, SA Rugby on Tuesday outlined in a media release the progress it has made on transformation.
After its annual audit, SA Rugby said its transformation barometer “had leapt from 59% success in 2018 to 81% a year later in the first year of the organisation’s refocused strategic transformation development plan 2030”.
It states further: “SA Rugby achieved success in 38 of its 47 areas of measurement in the dimensions of access, demographics and empowerment.”
It noted that the number of rugby-playing schools and clubs exceeded targets; that demographic targets for generic black players and black African players were achieved in eight out of nine national teams; and that 16 of 18 targets were achieved in coaching‚ refereeing‚ team support staff‚ board members and SA Rugby staff.
SA Rugby said it fell short of its targets in some areas: the number of black sports psychologists; failing to field either an under-18 women’s national team or under-16/under-17 male national teams; and at the senior male national level where the target for black representation was achieved but generic black representation was at 38% instead of the target of 45%.
CEO Jurie Roux said he was satisfied with the progress made. He praised all 14 provincial unions for achieving a minimum of 60% of their agreed targets in the provincial barometer.
SA Rugby more than met the government-appointed eminent persons group’s 50% pass. Federations which fail to achieve this can face sanctions from the minister of sports‚ arts and culture.
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