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SA Rugby must answer after snubbing Israel

The South African Rugby Union's (SARU) snub of an Israeli team is nothing but political subservience and borders on anti-Semitism, which is just as deplorable as racism.

The Israeli team, the Tel Aviv Heat, was set to participate in a new local rugby competition, the Mzansi Challenge League, in which six local First-League teams and five overseas teams will compete starting this coming Friday.

The local teams are the Leopards, Valke, Boland Kavaliers, Eastern Province, Border Bulldogs, and SWD Eagles. The international teams are the Diables (Spain), Simbas (Kenya), Windhoek Draught Welwitschias (Namibia) and Goshawks (Zimbabwe), and what would have been the Heat, which has now been replaced by the Mexican Rhinos (Mexico).

SARU formally announced the Israeli team's participation at the end of last month. But last Friday, just a few days later, Mr Mark Alexander, SARU president, made a sudden U-turn and said in a media statement that the invitation to the Heat has been "withdrawn".

According to him, the decision was made after submissions by various stakeholders were considered and to avoid "division" in rugby circles.

Mr Alexander's excuse is unacceptable. In the FF Plus's view, it is clear that the ANC government, with its anti-Israeli sentiments, cracked the whip and SARU simply acted out of subservience.

The FF Plus will formally request SARU to disclose who the so-called "stakeholders" are that were dissatisfied with the Israeli team's participation after its participation had already been discussed and approved by SARU itself.

The ANC government has now taken its meddling in sport too far. Israel is a full member of World Rugby and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Mr Alexander and SARU must explain why they are subservient to the ANC.

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