Cape Crusaders all class – NOT

MARK KEOHANE writes the Crusaders put in a world-class performance against the Stormers at Newlands but their supposedly rugby motivated coloured Cape following were again not in the same league.

The New Zealanders remain as bemused and amused at the number of coloured locals who refuse to support the Stormers but favour the red and black of a region from the south island of New Zealand – a region whose rugby officials have been accused of selecting a minimum quota of non-white players in their side.

Wellington import Robbie Freuan was as dark as it got for the Crusaders at Newlands.

The Crusaders are the most successful franchise in the history of Super Rugby. They have won the title seven times and made the semi-finals in 14 of the last 15 seasons. But their team, based on demographics of the region, has primarily been white.

I could understand the Blues, predominantly of Pacific Island origin, the Chiefs, with a strong Maori contingent and the Hurricanes, another side that traditionally included many Pacific Islands and Maori players, getting support from the coloured community in Cape Town because they felt they could identify with the demographic make-up of the side.

But the Crusaders are a white side and anyone who has travelled to Christchurch or New Zealand’s south island will tell you that the folk from that area are pretty conservative. I’ve often said the Crusaders would be the equivalent of the Bulls in South Africa, when one thinks of the traditional supporter.

I have never seen too many of the coloured community in Cape Town arrive at Newlands en-masse with a Bulls jersey, regardless of the quality of rugby they are playing or their success rate in the Currie Cup or Super Rugby.

Those who support the Crusaders have in the past mailed me to say they only support the side because of the brilliant rugby they play. I respect that and everyone has a democratic right to support just whoever they want to.

But the element who dress up in red and black, get to Newlands and act in a common and crass manner, as happened again last Saturday, do the Crusaders franchise a disservice and certainly do the team no favours.

The New Zealanders think it is a joke. They may publicly thank those misguided masses for their support but privately they find them an intrusion and an embarrassment and a mild form of entertainment.

It is the same with the All Blacks, who appreciate any support but remain baffled as to why so many in the coloured community can’t move on and support a national team in which coloured players have been among the super stars.

One of those coloured players is the legendary wing Bryan Habana, who in 2007 was the best player in the world and helped win the Boks a World Cup.

Habana tweeted his disgust at the behaviour of a section of those coloured supporters wearing Crusaders colours on Saturday for the manner at which they swore at the Stormers players, spat at them and generally behaved like common uneducated thugs.

The star Bok tweeted that he wished he could find the cash to buy them all a one-way ticket to Christchurch and rid Newlands of them for good.

This group is a minority among the many coloured rugby supporters in Cape Town and they are as big an embarrassment to the passionate coloured rugby supporter, regardless of which team he or she supports.

What makes me laugh is the argument from this minority as to how they relate to the Crusaders. In which way? The same way the oke from Bishop Lavis relates to the oke from Bishops Court?

And if they relate to the Crusaders because of the quality of their rugby, then return the favour to the team and show some quality behaviour.

South Africa, as a nation, has moved on. It will never be the ideal or perfect society but then no society can make such a claim.

My message to those who live in Cape Town and aspire to be Kiwis is to make the effort to get on a plane and experience New Zealand.

You may find it a shock to the system to see that there is as much racial prejudice in New Zealand as there is anywhere in the world and that a traditional Cape coloured community will have very little in common with a traditional Christchurch community.

The Crusaders are primarily a white team, but if the motivation to support them is based on the way they play rugby, then would the same principle be applied to a primarily white Stormers or Springbok team, who played great rugby? I think not.

I also don’t think the crass and clueless among those Cape Crusaders followers would even know how to spell the word principle, let alone know its meaning.

So in simple terms, support the classy Crusaders but try and show a bit of class in your support. The players deserve that at least.

As for Habana’s wish to put these clowns on a plane, speak to your mate Johan Rupert and ask him to pay for the flights. Make it a one-way ticket because they will find that the reality of life for a coloured in Christchurch is very different to the romance of wearing a Crusaders supporters jersey once a year and calling themselves Kiwis.