THE singing of President Jacob Zuma’s trademark song, Umshini wami, and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema’s infamous Dubul’ iBhunu incited the violence between Edenvale Panthers Rugby Club (EPRC) and the Soweto Rugby Club (SRC).
And the decision to suspend the Panthers was due to a trial by the media, instigated by the Soweto club, according to a report by the EPRC and submitted to the Golden Lions Rugby Union.
About six members of the SRC – including the coach and driver – were admitted to hospital after being seriously injured in the brawl two weeks ago.
The fighting broke out late in the second half of the match when the Soweto club was leading 27-7. This sparked accusations by Sowetans that the attack was motivated by “sheer jealousy and racism” as they were poised to win the league.
Racial slurs were also exchanged during the ill-tempered match.
Following the incident, which drew wide condemnation, including from Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, the Golden Lions Rugby Union slapped down the Panthers with a suspension last week.
The suspension has not gone down well with the Panthers, who filed papers appealing against the ban on Wednesday.
Club chairman Victor de Klerk vowed to fight the suspension.
“All I can do is to fight for my players, who just want to play rugby. They must rather suspend me and let the players play the game,” he said.
In the Panthers’ report to the Golden Lions, De Klerk accuses the Soweto club’s players of provoking his team by singing inflammatory and racial songs.
“During our under-19 game, the SRC second team arrived. These players chose, in order to create a festive atmosphere, to sing political songs. The rugby anthem, Shosholoza, would have been appropriate.”
De Klerk lashed out at the Golden Lions for what he said was a “biased ban” of his team. “It was one-sided. The fair deal would have been to suspend both clubs,” he said.
“We were used as scapegoats in these racial allegations,” he added.
SRC secretary-general Zola Ntlokomu declined to comment.
Attempts to get comment from the Golden Lions Rugby Union were not successful and calls to manager Peter Visser’s cellphone went unanswered.