Tribalism and 'bitterness' mar Springboks' Rugby World Cup victory

04 November 2019 - 10:56 By Cebelihle Bhengu
SA's victory against England has been marred by negative comments on social media.
SA's victory against England has been marred by negative comments on social media.
Image: Luke Walker/World Rugby via Getty Images

As the world celebrated the Springboks' Rugby World Cup win in Japan on Saturday, comments about tribalism quickly dominated Twitter, marring the team's' triumph.

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Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and winger Makazole Mapimpi are Xhosas, a fact that was used by some tweeps to pronounce the tribe superior to others.

An open letter “from the Xhosa people to the nation” was also widely shared on social media.

In part, the letter reads: “We as the Xhosa people would like to state that we're tired of carrying this country on our backs. Year by year we work tirelessly for this country, while the rest of the nation relaxes. We'd also like to state that this World Cup is the last thing Xhosa people are doing for this country.”

While some openly embraced the perceived tribalism, others denounced it, saying it was divisive.

Meanwhile, musician and poet Ntsiki Mazwai started a Twitter storm with a video in which she claimed that SA's rugby team did not represent her or the true demographics of the country.

“I will not pretend as if I don't know black boys who have been excluded from the selection processes ... and little tricks that Afrikaans men have played to keep black boys out of the sport.”

Ntsiki also lamented the exclusion of Xhosa men from the sport. “I will not play along with you and act a fool, and act like I don't know that in Xhosa there's a huge rugby culture.”

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi also expressed concern about the team's demographics.

“Until when will you live a lie?" he asked.

Their comments divided social media, with some labelling them "bitter".