Why Capetonians will cheer the All Blacks on Saturday
For Shaheeda Alexander of Cape Town‚ Saturday is payback time for 1995‚ when she was at Ellis Park to watch her beloved All Blacks lose to South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final.
At Newlands on Saturday afternoon‚ she is confident of revenge.
The Kensington woman inherited her devotion to the New Zealand national rugby side from her late father‚ who played club rugby in Cape Town as a young man.
“The club got the opportunity to play against a New Zealand club‚ but due to the colour of his skin he had his passport revoked‚” said Alexander‚ 52.
Her father vowed never to support the national team and Alexander has sustained his support for the All Blacks‚ travelling to their games in South Africa‚ getting up in the middle of the night to watch them on TV and even taking the day off work on Friday to meet her idol‚ Sonny Bill Williams.
Therri Barthis‚ of Brackenfell‚ is another of the hundreds of Capetonians who will be cheering the Kiwis on Saturday.
The 22-year-old said her father supported the All Blacks because people of colour were not eligible to play for the Springboks.
“As I got older and started to understand the game‚ I found my passion. I have always been very vocal about my support for the All Blacks and I will continue to be‚” she said.
“I have been called unpatriotic but I have freedom of choice to support whoever I want.
"When All Blacks supporters go to Newlands‚ we go en masse. The spirit we bring makes a difference‚ and that is why the All Blacks always dominate and why the Springboks are dreading Saturday.”
Veteran sports journalist Archie Henderson said support for the All Blacks was a longstanding Newlands phenomenon.
“The coloured supporters were always confined to the lower deck of the south stand‚ and a lot of them would cheer the opposition of the Springboks‚” he said.
“The people supporting the All Blacks today are the children and grandchildren of those people.
"Rugby in the Cape is quite complex — there are still very strong differences-politically and culturally‚ and also historically.”
Kurt Davids‚ 34‚ from Kraaifontein‚ said he became a diehard All Blacks supporter due to mismanagement of the Springboks since 2013.
“They are not lifting titles‚ they are not winning games. Individually they perform well‚ but when it comes to the national team they can’t perform and deliver‚” he said.