Just a very nice story worth repeating. It was printed in RuggaWorld, 12 June 2006.
This was the story by Brendon Shields (maybe he remembers it?):
I decided this week to attend a local club game instead of supporting the Boks at ABSA stadium. The club game also kicked-off at 3pm, forcing me to record the Springbok game for later viewing. This, in my twisted over-analytical little mind, was a fresh approach to supporting rugby in South Africa.
At around 2:30 I left the house to buy a couple of beers and some biltong and by kick-off my car parked right behind the posts in a sublime spot overlooking the Maluti koppies.
The match featured two strong teams. The hosts were the Zebras, a team made up from mostly colored and black players in the location coached by my dad at night under one street light.
The visitors were the Bethlehem Collegians – an all white team with some strong sponsors and good support from the more affluent in town. The match was played at Bakenpark stadium – a shoddy venue in the heart of the previously ‘colored’ township by the same name.
As with my previous post I will not mention much about the game itself apart from to say that the Zebras comprehensively outgunned the Collegians with some intelligent running and good ball skills.
The Collegians team consisted of some really big forwards and equally sturdy backs but it is becoming more apparent by the day that the ‘white’ style of play has more weaknesses than strengths.
Our white guys simply lack intelligence and once you can match their pack you are sure to run them ragged in the backs. It happens week after week in schools rugby and now also at club level.
To strengthen the Zebra pack my dad approached some ‘damduikers’ as they are called in these parts. A ‘damduiker’ is a poor white male who lives on the breadline, mostly unemployed or employed in the security industry or at the railways.
These guys are the salt of the earth and due to their upbringing they are hard as nails. They are often not as well nourished and were more than likely not picked for the first team whilst at school. For these reasons the damduiker is more often than not a very skinny specimen with little representative rugby experience.
BUT you will not get them as tough as the damduiker. You can pick a huge farmer against these boys but after 60 minutes at the bottom of a ruck you will see the damduiker get a trademark wry smile and from then on its hell for the farmer boys.
Farmers enjoy rugby. Damduikers enjoy contact – and the club game almost always favors the latter!
The Damduiker tight five, supported by the speedy black loose trio. (Why do Africans prefer and excel in this position whereas the ‘colored’ players are born backline specialists? Do Solly Tyibilika and Tim Dlulane have something to do with this or is it physiological?)
The Zebras managed to neutralize the big Collegians pack and as I have said before the backline just stepped and jived all day leaving the whiteys in a daze.
This article however is about what went on next to the field. This is where I have discovered the heart of South Africa.
A quick photo snap: Its winter in one of the coldest places in the country. Most patches of grass are burnt black and you have the South African National Flower (the plastic bag) to decorate the natural environment with aplomb.
On the B field two local soccer teams are battling it out but they have about 100 onlookers. The rugby field is totally surrounded by cars, people standing on the back of bakkies, groupies having cider or wine etc. The smell of chops on a BBQ fill the air and the combined sound of 45 different car sound systems (some with boom boxes) create a surreal sonic vibe.
The picture described above is well known to most South Africans; however this Saturday the picture was altered slightly. Black and white converged in their numbers on this ground and for once we mixed and shouted and laughed and screamed together, without it being forced upon anyone by some Vodacom marketing campaign.
At some point a car pulled up with 4 slightly tipsy girls hooting down the touch line. Once the car stopped two African girls and two Afrikaans girls appeared from the dusty haze created by their braking on the dry grass. The four of them hugged and laughed and shared a good time.
Next to the field a white and a black spectator each argued over the conundrum of why club players seem to handle the ball better in contact than their Super 14 counterparts. Both respected each others rugby knowledge.
Behind the posts some 14 boys, black and white started a touch game, quickly followed by just as many girls playing a game of netball. The local crowd applauded the visitors play and the place erupted with noise from car hooters and screams every time a local player stepped or scored.
I mention ‘stepped’ because it would appear as if the African spectator has a special appreciation for a good jinx or a step, much the same as us white fans like a hard tackle.