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Kama denies White ‘gag order’

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Springbok media manager Vusi Kama has moved swiftly to douse the flames of controversy threatening to consume the Springbok rugby team before the players have even gathered for their first training sessions of the year, as of-the-field events continue to overshadow onfield achievement.

Kama, speaking on Wednesday morning, was reacting to reports that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) hierarchy has gagged Springbok coach Jake White.

It was reported that White will not grant media interviews until next Monday – as the Boks start preparations for their first Test of the year, against England in Bloemfontein on May 26.

It was just one of several controversial events surrounding the national team since a 46-man training squad was announced at the weekend.

Politicians and officials have continued to try and score points by making public statements on the Luke Watson controversy and now White – who along with the SARU presidency (president Oregan Hoskins, deputy president Koos Basson and vice-president Mike Stofile) are at the centre of the Watson saga – have decided not to front up to the media.

However, Kama denied that it was a “gagging order” from SARU of SA Rugby (the commercial arm of SARU) and said that it was a joint decision.

“This is not a direct instruction from SA Rugby/SARU, but rather a joint decision,” Kama told this website.

“We have to put this into perspective … he [White] has not been gagged.

“Jake [White], in agreement with SA Rugby/SARU has decided that in order not to detract from the Super 14 Final [between the Sharks and Bulls in Durban on Saturday] – which is a far more important event for South African rugby right now – the coach will only start speaking to the media from Monday.

“We thought that it is better to allow the Final to get the coverage and attention it deserves, seeing it is the first ever all-South African Final. Jake [White] agreed to that decision [not to speak to the media].

“The conditioning staff and team manager [Zola Yeye] are all still available for media comment,” Kama added.

The White gagging reports follow a number of controversial decisions and events in the past four days – which all started when the SARU presidency – Hoskins, Basson and Stofile – rode roughshod over the selection of the 45-man (now 46) Bok training squad and added Watson’s name to the list without the knowledge of the Bok coach.

It has caused a major storm in which politicians and even Watson’s father has found it necessary to add their voices.

Dan “Cheeky” Watson, Luke Watson’s father, argued that a sinister “third force” is running South African rugby and that his son is seen as the “grandchild of the struggle”.

According to Watson snr his son is paying the price for his (Cheeky Watson’s) political activism.

Watson began playing rugby in the townships in 1976 and was ostracised from white rugby.

Stofile on Monday claimed that Watson has been “unfairly treated” because of his father’s stance against apartheid.

Cheeky Watson said that South African rugby has an apartheid mentality.

“To the third force I say: your identities and your motives are being uncovered every single day and it won’t be long until people really know who you are and what you are doing,” he told the Cape Times.

Meanwhile Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool weighed into the debate by claiming that Luke Watson should be regarded as a “black” player – because of his father’s activism.

Rasool said that Watson was an outstanding ambassador for historically disadvantaged communities, as witnessed at a recent rugby tournament, the Premier’s Cup, held in Khayelitsha last Saturday.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in turn lashed out at Rasool’s comments that Watson is a “black player”.

The DA’s provincial spokesperson on cultural affairs and sport Alta Rossouw

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