There has been a lot of hoo-ha about the issue of the Springbok emblem on the jersey of the South African team and personally I am glad it will remain part of it.
Keeping Springbok logo is important
There has been a lot of hoo-ha about the issue of the Springbok emblem on the jersey of the South African team and personally I am glad it will remain part of it. The rugby union and the sports ministry have agreed to put the King Protea flower as the main emblem on the shirt because some people feel the Springbok reflects the apartheid era. While it is a difficult subject for me to comment on, what I will say is that the Springbok was on the shirt before apartheid and will be long after. It has been part of rugby history for 102 years and will it really make a difference if the emblems are changed or moved?
What I do know is that rugby has done more in terms of trying to bring people, the country together, than anyone. We have tried to create a togetherness and spirit in the team and for the supporters, regardless of colour or creed. Look at how we all celebrated the World Cup wins in 1995 and 2007. Apartheid is something in our history and it is hard to ignore or forget, but we have to try to work for the future now.
The people who lead us have to work to bring everyone together rather than focus on what used to happen. Our union launched an initiative called STAR (Stand Together Against Racism) and it is something we hope will help in terms of integration. I believe the progress we are making in South Africa is getting exponentially bigger every year. I have grown up with guys like Bryan Habana and we don't see colour in the team, we just want to do well together for our country.
I am grateful for having that upbringing. It's hard for me to say how it was before, but in primary school I was in a small town and I remember there wasn't one black kid. You don't notice it at that age or really understand it. I first experienced multi-racial schooling at 13 where, before that, it took time for everyone to realise that we can all go together; the world won't explode. I was fortunate that my father, Basil, wanted me to experience the change in South Africa and I was specifically sent to a school he didn't go to because it was one of the only multi-racial schools in the country.
I was sent to Pretoria Boys High and it had been multi-racial for many years, even in the apartheid days. I would go to my boarding school and they had 15 kids in every standard and 40 per cent of those were black guys. My two kids (one-month-old Tyron and two-year-old Emma) now won't even know what colour is because their whole lives will be multi- racial. Our country is a work in progress without a doubt and if I think how far we have come and how much progress we have made since the first elections in 1994, it is fantastic.
I am immensely proud of how South Africa has grown and it's something I am trying to apply myself to every day. In rugby, we can only do so much though, and we need everyone else to do their bit to help the nation grow stronger. I am looking forward to heading back home after our UK tour and being part of the Barbarians side. We learned a lot in our wins against Wales, Scotland and England, and to be part of the Barbarians was something special even if we couldn't get the win against Australia.