/ 21 May 2010

Tutu applauds rugby’s move to Soweto

Archbishop Desmond Tutu applauded the decision to move a Super 14 rugby semifinal to Soweto, local media reported on Friday.

Traditionally white rugby has never held a major match in one of the townships.

On Saturday, the Northern Bulls take on the Canterbury Crusaders in the Super 14 semifinal at Soweto’s Orlando Stadium.

Tutu called the decision “the most important development in the sport since the Springboks won the World Cup in 1995”, according to the South African Press Association.

The Bulls had to find a new home for the match because their stadium, Loftus in Pretoria, is being readied for the Soccer World Cup, which kicks off on June 11.

“The decision by the powers that be at the Bulls, when their home ground became unavailable, to shift the match to Soweto rather than another more traditional rugby venue, should be applauded by all South Africans,” Tutu said in a statement.

“Not too long ago, Pretorians may have choked on their moustaches at the thought of ‘skopping pale toe‘ [kicking for the posts] at Orlando Stadium, Soweto.

“And the arrival of these giant Bulls from the north would have sent Sowetans ducking for cover. But this weekend Soweto will host the biggest rugby match ever held in a South African township.”

Many white rugby fans will be visiting a township for the first time, while many residents of Soweto will experience rugby culture up-close for the first time, he added.

Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town but keeps a home in Soweto, near where fellow laureate Nelson Mandela once lived. — AFP