Sport

RWC 2023

Springboks will fly the flag for South Africans after politicians drop the anti-doping code ball

Springboks will fly the flag for South Africans after politicians drop the anti-doping code ball
From left: Springboks Ox Nché, Trevor Nyakane, Jean Kleyn, Marvin Orie and Marco van Staden during the singing of the national anthems before a Rugby World Cup France 2023 match. (Photo: Alex Livesey / Getty Images)

The Boks will focus on playing for 60 million South Africans regardless of whether or not they are allowed to fly the flag.

Politicians might have dropped the ball after failing to amend South Africa’s anti-doping code in Parliament in time to comply with a World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) deadline, but the Springboks will do what they do best and focus on winning. 

Last week, Daily Maverick broke the news that the Boks might not be able to fly the national flag during their Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2023 quarterfinal and beyond because of administration bungles over relatively simple compliance with Wada’s doping code. 

The South African government has not met a deadline to amend the outdated drug-free sport act to comply with the latest Wada code.

The code is a global policy that is agreed on and adopted by the sports movement and governments from around the world.

Wada’s revised anti-doping code came into effect on 1 January 2021 and all member countries are expected to comply with it. To date, more than 700 sporting bodies and federations have accepted the new code.

On 23 September, Wada issued a statement confirming that South Africa had not updated its anti-doping code and had fallen foul of Wada’s mandatory compliance requirements, for which it faces consequences. Those consequences include the banning of the country’s flag at international sports events.

This has led to massive scrambling by the government now that there is a real threat of international embarrassment hovering over the reigning world champions in France.

The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport, as the signatory on the Wada Code, will lodge an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne on 12 October — a day before the deadline to comply.

Once an appeal is lodged with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the consequences of non-compliance are suspended. 

While the sports ministry has gone to ground after its massive own goal, the Boks have been left to fend off questions about a situation not of their making. They should be entirely focused on their RWC 2023 quarterfinal against hosts France on Sunday.

Bok scrum coach Daan Human became the unlikely voice of sanity in the entire debacle.

“I’m not too sure, a hundred percent, what is happening there,” Human said when asked to explain the situation to the world’s media in France. “I can’t really comment on it. 

“All I know is the Springbok players are 100% focused on the job, on what needs to be done this week. 

“It doesn’t matter which colour jersey we wear, or whether we have a jersey without a flag on it, or even play without the national anthem. 

“I can tell you one thing, the boys who are here — the 53, our whole squad here who represent South Africa — they represent 60 million people back home and they’re willing to fight for them. 

“I can assure you of that.” 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Rugby World Cup 2023

Battling Les Bleus 

The Boks lost 30-26 against France in Marseille last November when they were reduced to 14 men for 68 minutes and Human believes France are even better now. 

“France are much better now than they were a year ago. Like us, they got better too,” Human said. “When you train hard, you always have a chance to get better. If you don’t train, then you have to be worried. I know they have been training hard. 

“A good friend of mine, William Servat [former France hooker] is coaching their forwards and I know they have improved. But I believe in our guys too. I can promise you, we didn’t just look each other in the eyes or have meetings, there was work done as well.” 

The Boks arrived in Paris on Monday, finally decamping from their plush Toulon base for the last time. They will either stay in Paris for two more weeks after Sunday, or they will go home. 

The quarterfinal against France promises to be a titanic struggle between two teams that play similarly.

France were boosted by the news that talismanic scrumhalf Antoine Dupont had been given medical clearance to resume full training this week. He will be in contention for selection to face the Boks.

His mere presence will be a fillip for Les Bleus, but if it was a concern for the Boks they hid it well. Instead, they continue to heap praise on Dupont and stuck to the refrain that they want to see the best players competing at the World Cup.

“It’s great for France to have him back. He is a great asset for them,” said Bok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk. 

“It doesn’t affect us, whether he plays or not. For me, personally, it is always great to play the best in the world. We are preparing to play against France, not just against him, though he is a very dangerous player.” 

Human continued the charm offensive: “That [French] pack has a world-class No 9 [Dupont] behind them. World Cups are about getting the best players in the world on the pitch. Hopefully, Dupont will be on the field, so that the world can see one of the best players in the world.” 

The Boks might want to be careful what they wish for, but at least they have done their jobs properly and prepared as best as they can. Unlike others in positions of influence in South Africa. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Go our Boks! Your rugby and your statesmanship do South Africa proud.

  • Peter Doble says:

    This match will be a titanic struggle and I sincerely hope that the best team of players succeeds and that losing side accepts defeat graciously. While I can understand the emotion, desire for pride and sense of achievement, it is concerning that national emblems and tribal identity plays such a large part in sport – especially in South Africa where only a small percentage of the population gives a damn and its delinquent governing party clearly does not.
    This sense of ownership of highly paid professionals is most disturbing and is becoming more prevalent in the raucous support and national flag waving of primarily individual sports such as golf and tennis. Sport is universal and unifying but the politicising of it is deeply distasteful.

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      It’s definitely not just a South African thing! You want tribal in sports? Football in Europe from clubs through to national sides, where fans have to be separated because of the tribal thuggery they have, week in and week out. And that’s from local leagues, all the way through to Euros or World Cups. Try South America where players have been killed because they’ve failed at a World Cup (I can definitely remember one in Colombia, and I think Brazil as well?), never mind the absolute tribalism, fighting and deaths that have occurred there, and in Europe between rival ‘supporters’. Under Saddam, failure on the pitch could result in imprisonment and torture under his brutal son, Uday. Methinks you doth protest about SA too much, Peter!

  • Margaret Jensen says:

    Well said Craig. The ‘others’ bring the government…..

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    The Boks are there to play rugby for South Africa not be involved in politics. Once again, the ANC lets the country down. So sad, so unforgiveable!

  • Lindy Gaye says:

    Unacceptable and sad but totally par for the course – ANC living down to it’s usual low standards.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    But if we win the WC the scavengers that is our goverment want to join in

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Just another embarrassing mess from the useless ANC. And nobody has the decency to take the fall, least of all the useless Zizi Kodwa, he of the million Rand ‘loan’ that was revealed at the Zondo Commission. Whatever happened to that?

  • JP van der Merwe says:

    There is just no bottom to how utterly incompetent our government is. They surprise you every time even when you are sure that it cannot get any worse.

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