Rugby racism row back in South African media

Johannesburg- South Africa (PANA) -- The rugby row over racism claims occupied center stage in most newspapers Wednesday with reports of a new inquiry into sensational claims that the sport was dogged by cover-ups.
The Star, a mass circulating daily broadsheet newspaper, dedicated most of its front page to the story, which gained momentum on Tuesday with the resignation of Springbok communications boss Mark Keohane.
The unexpected resignation was accompanied by fresh claims of racism in the sport just six weeks before the World Cup.
Keohane said he could no longer be part of an organisation in which "prejudice is tolerated, wished away and excused.
" Last week the white dominated sport was plunged into chaos when newspapers reported that Springbok hopeful Geo Cronje had refused to share a room and bathroom with a black player, Quinton Davids.
However, the reports were countered at the weekend by an impromptu probe into the allegations levelled against the Blue Bulls lock.
A two-man inquiry led by former Springbok scrum-half Christo Ferreira found that there was not enough evidence to make the racism charge stick.
Although Cronje was cleared, he and his accuser Davids were both subsequently left out of the South African World Cup squad that was announced on Saturday.
The Star reported that South Africa's rugby governing bodies - SA Rugby and the South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) - had decided to re-open investigations into racism claims in the sport.
Keohane's departure from rugby has added to the many distractions in the preparations for the World Cup that have dogged the sport in recent weeks.
Gideon Sam the black Springbok manager was booed by supporters when he addressed them after the 30-man World Cup team was announced.
The Citizen quoted the sports ministry as saying: "Any allegations of prejudice, more so if it has racial undertones, must never be treated lightly, no matter the source of its origins.
" Other newspapers including the Sowetan and the Beeld also reported on the race row.
Sabc radio said on Wednesday that Judge Edwin King had agreed to head the new inquiry.

03 september 2003 07:39:00

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