Siyabonga Ntshingila
Siyabonga Ntshingila

Is Luke Watson an idiot?

Luke Watson is incredibly difficult to like. Mind you, I fall into the side of those who believe he gets a pretty raw deal as a player and a person, but its pretty obvious that, Bhutana Komphela aside (hands up anyone who thinks Komphela is presenting his own agenda when he shoots off the hip? A little lesson, stop being naïve) no other name in SA Rugby arouses such strong and polarised opinions. He’s like Bob Skinstad in his tongue- baring, topless posing days, except in reverse.

Of course most of that grief has nought to do with him as a person and more with what he represents — Cheeky come back to haunt die volk he turned against. Even if Luke had spent his entire career with his head down working hard and not self-righteously mouthing off at every chance he’d be as vilified and hated by most ‘traditional’ rugby supporters as he is now. I’m not saying none of it is his fault. SA Rugby has always proven to not be too welcoming and encouraging of strong characters who commit such blasphemies as speaking their mind and put their personal principles above the team. A Gavin Hanson type for example would not have made it past u/7 rugby in die platteland without a coach/senior schoolmate setting him straight with the odd swift klap.

That that mindset is at the core of Springbok strength and a crucial part of our sustained success over the years (the odd blip aside) and is ingrained in most South African cultures is very obvious and I am certainly not suggesting a change in a (mostly) winning culture. It is bound to happen that every generation we’d have a maverick type character who will rock the boat and instead of silencing them, we could use their different take on things to help build a stronger culture. It would have been naïve to expect that the son of a man who made as brave a call about the direction his life was going to take as Cheeky did and who was schooled in revolutionary circles was going to toe the line in a culture that represents everything he and his family abhor. Now if Schalk Burger had said the same, I’d understand the shock and anger but really now, this is like being incredulous at Helen Zille going on a hysterical rant about the ANC being corrupt in its handling of kitchen supplies and calling for a Commission of Inquiry into the misuse of Parliamentary tea cups. Or something.

But back onto the most recent Luke saga. A lot of folk are unhappy about Luke’s utterances especially the alleged references to “Dutchmen” and an Afrikaans cabal supposedly keeping a tight grip on controlling rugby. To be fair, that kind of talk is bound to have people up in arms. I hope he didn’t say so just to get publicity. Hell, if General De La Rey came back to life and uttered those words it would raise questions, let alone the Rooibos drinking son of a perceived traitor.

Of course there will now be clamouring for him to dropped from the Bok team for what he allegedly said, but again that would be reactionary naivety at its worst. Luke is not about to be dropped for anything but rugby reasons. And I am talking about a serious sustained dip in form. He’s shown he doesn’t care what his team-mates think so no amount of ostracisation will make him consider packing it in. Compared to what his father went through, his troubles must be said to be piddling, and given the kind of people he has in his corner he should have more than enough motivation to keep at it.

What everyone is missing here is the actual substance of the comments causing the entire furore. Does he have a point? Is there merit in his views? Surely if it is that he is wrong then a stronger case can be made against him than that he seemingly picked on one population group and made heinous allegations against them. If you want to bring down a man who projects himself as being pious all you have to do is show facts that reveal the fraud he is and let the inevitable happen. Or ask for an inquiry. You know it’s bound to happen.

Prove him wrong and that may sufficiently embarrass his backers enough for them to sit him down and tell him he’s being “recalled” from the transformation struggle and will be redeployed elsewhere. If anything, he’d be a good candidate to sell the township masses on the benefits of Rooibos tea. The ANC surely wouldn’t mind healthy voters?

If he is right about Doc Craven, should we reconsider how history views the Godfather of Springbok rugby? If not, call him to task and ensure he faces whatever disciplinary measures are appropriate. Doc Craven’s is not a name to be bandied about making silly statements.

If it is that he is correct, however, then let’s do the sensible thing. Accept the truth for what it is and not let the source cloud our judgment. Certainly there’s a good argument to be made for rugby seemingly dragging its feet on unity and transformation. And if this is due to a Broederbond-type clique then maybe this needs to be outed and dealt with. It’s been 14 years and more since we started discussing transformation and I for one feel not nearly enough has been done, but before pointing fingers lets get down to the facts and reasons behind the situation. Otherwise we are going to continue along this line of it being an issue for aggrieved parties on both sides of the fence to mouth off about it when they have no more substance to debate and we’ll forever be mired in a mudslinging match while the issue keeps fermenting and doing exactly the opposite of bringing our society together

So, idiot or martyr? It does not really matter; lets not make this about Luke. He isn’t the be all and end all of SA Rugby. Let’s not give him attention and respect/derision that is undue. Let’s get our house in order, clear out whatever skeletons lurk in the Bok closet and not afford all and sundry a chance to sully the good name of our beloved sport. Look at it this way: if there’s no ammunition for those who wish to destabilise SA Rugby, then they are effectively silenced already.

The question is not then whether Luke is an idiot or not, it is: is SA Rugby where and how we want it to be?

P.S. On Doc Craven — SERIOUSLY, is what Luke allegedly alleged (love PC speak) true? I would sure like to know.

20 Responses to “Is Luke Watson an idiot?”

  1. Steven #

    Who’s a traitor?Cheeky Watson?Why?Up until “help n bietjie daar”Luke Watson came into the Springboks no-one even knew who the hell the Watson’s are and did’nt really care.The world rates Schalk Burger the best no.6 there is and old Puke Watson rates himself better.Thats why we dont like him.You put your foot in it you Schalk wannabe NOW DEAL WITH IT!!!!Before you get sick.DICK!!!!

    October 14, 2008 at 7:10 am
  2. OnRee #

    Ha ha, don’t you love writing a really great, insightful & legible blog entry, and then the first reply is that stuff above, frothing at the mouth!?

    October 14, 2008 at 7:46 am
  3. Franz #

    I don’t think the SA public had a problem with Luke before the whole quota debacle.

    I’m an Afrikaner, and was actually very impressed with him – he looked like a real future captain.

    Afrikaners don’t worry about struggle credentials, we worry about a rugby players’ abilities and hard-working integrity (you get what I’m trying to say).

    Luke didn’t do too much to win the hearts of the rugby loving public…on contrair

    October 14, 2008 at 8:25 am
  4. Stevland #

    Couldnt agree more OnRee…….mara why?
    Steven – calm down buddy…….you miss a hug as a kid??

    October 14, 2008 at 8:37 am
  5. Jon #

    The answer to your question is YES.

    October 14, 2008 at 10:35 am
  6. Eric #

    The point is that Danie Craven was a rascist and the whole of SOuth African Rugby was rascist. The non-white Unions have been written out of the story. Sure Benny Osler and Boy Louw were great players, but equally great contemporaries were actively excluded from playing for SA. So it was affirmative action for whites. Even the AB’s did not bring their Maori players here for fear of upsetting the all white Springboks. Boasting about how you had never heard of cheeky Watson shows how ignorant you are and how you prefer to remain blinkered.

    October 14, 2008 at 11:37 am
  7. I am deeply disappointed in Luke Watson – not for any reference to any word describing the Afrikaner – but for pure Rugby reasons. It is naive to think that comments made by a National Sportsmen at a transformation forum is not going to be quoted. If it is indeed true that he referred to the Springbok squad in negative terms and more alarming to specific players [Schalk Burger] picked ahead of him – he is definately not a positive influence for a team in a team sport!Every true professional in a team sport will acknowledge that team dynamics requires a close bond between players and even more so in a contact sport environment.Whatever we might say about Doc Craven – he was correct in saying that “No Player is more important than the Game”. If only Luke was less important…and used the opportunity to share some positive energy..!

    October 14, 2008 at 1:19 pm
  8. Vapour #

    Interesting. I fail to see how Luke hopes to be automatically seen correct in his assumptions/reality by simply making others wrong. The truth about ourselves is far more complex than that. Anyhow it really is much ado about Cheeky and less about the present state of success and transformation of SA rugby. If they are so wrong why are they the world champions?

    October 14, 2008 at 1:36 pm
  9. Slider #

    First the Peter de Villiers sex tape, and now the Luke Watson audio recording – something is deeply out of whack here. It’s like a bad movie, but with no ending.

    Why were Watson’s remarks recorded and transcripted?
    What happened to the reported comment about Dutchmen that’s not in the transcript? Did the source just decide to switch off his recorder?
    Why was Watson reported as being the reason for the blackmail threat behind the sex tape?
    Why did Chris Hewitt resign to avoid a disciplinary hearing when his only transgression appeared to be the innocent conveying of information to Peter de Villiers?
    Why did Peter de Villiers fly off the handle and blame the whites for trying to oust him? What circumstances made him think that? Up to that point, there had been only sly references to Eastern Cape politicians being involved.
    Watson’s speech was made on 3rd October, why was the story first published more than a week later, by coincidence shortly after Cheeky Watson and others had called for the scrapping of the Springbok symbol?

    Luke Watson is clearly a loose cannon with a big ego and little respect for his teammates who will open his mouth without engaging his brain, and Peter de Villiers is pretty loose as well, in addition to being deeply distrustful of events around him.
    Are they being exploited? If so, to what end?

    October 14, 2008 at 3:16 pm
  10. Steve #

    It´s been known for years that people in the rugby world believe Luke to be extremely arrogant!

    I disagree with you Bonga, when you say he would be villified if he had kept his mouth shut. Nobody villifies Habana, the Beast or Pietersen – they are respected as heroes to millions of young South Africans and Habana especially has been used as a face for rugby internationally by the IRB and his father also has a reputation for being anti apartheid. The problem with Luke is that he just wasn´t good enough to be a first team player – we have too many better loose forwards than him – Burger, Smit, Kankowski, Spies to name but a few (there a lot more as well if you think about non Springboks – Jean Deysel, Keegan Daniels, Jacque Botha) – but this white boy not even close to being Springbok material who went to school at Grey PE, has been forced into the Springboks originally as a supposed quota player – It makes no sense.

    In a year where South Africa has regular starts with players good enough to be in the team like Jantjies, Peterson, Habana, Januarie, the Beast and, Mujati and we have for the first time a Black coach – its ridiculous for a guy like Watson to be selected over players much better than him, for what are clearly political reasons. For him to say that he feels like vomiting on the Springbok jersey is an insult to the millions of us (of all races) who put on our Springbok jerseys and came to the streets to celebrate the 2007 victory. What an asshole!

    October 14, 2008 at 4:36 pm
  11. Lungani #

    Luke Watson is a first class prick. No wonder Jake White never bothered to look his way for so long.
    As a Sharks fan, it irks me deeply that Province are not in the final of the Currie Cup. Not because I want them to win, but because it would have been great for a, oh lets say a Jean Deysel or a certain Beast to meet the aforementioned twat on the wrong side of a ruck and truly show him how to really put a foot in the mouth.
    But, we may only see the prick in action next year- because he sure as hell will never see that green and gold he so despises.
    it is scum like this that Khompela should be looking to kick out; chip-off-the-shoulder types who know they are not good enough and then revert to muddying an icon of rugby folklore, our beloved Bok.
    watson truly is a first class prick!

    October 14, 2008 at 5:32 pm
  12. malcolm spence #

    The watson family history should be looked at. Dis they switch their rugby allegiance to Motherwell for strictly political reasons or was their family trading businesses not possibly the beneficiaries that motivated their action? The Watsons have certainly reaped great financial gains from their ANC allegiance in some deals not far removed from the Kebble saga. Luke as an honorary black may be making noises appropriate to someone whose rugby abilities are never going to bring him the same rewards as those awaiting him and someone like Julius Malema. In any event they both suffer from the same disorder. Head and backside interchangeable.

    October 14, 2008 at 6:07 pm
  13. How is Luke Watson’s “Dutchmen” remarks different from Markgraaf’s racist remarks?

    What I find really revealing from this whole saga is black South Africa’s total amnesia of a big part of South Africa’s history: The blatant prejudice by first the British and then significant parts the English speaking public.

    Do yourself a favour and read ‘The Afrikaners’ by Giliomee and you will know why these comments are considered so hurtful.

    October 14, 2008 at 8:41 pm
  14. Middles #

    I always enjoy your articles but were you not slightly upset at Luke going off about refraining from vomiting on the jersey and blabbing on about people laying down their lives and hypocritically saying he wore the jersey for a greater cause?

    this guy has had a more priviledged life than any of us and still he plays a victim? His dad used him as a political pawn and HE IS NOT A QUOTA? It makes no sense.

    Our national under 20 side, the springbok 7′s side and the Springboks are all coached by coloureds. The head of SARU is non-white and one selector is also a shade darker. Now how on earth can people still force transformation!!!! If there were more talented black players they would get chosen immediately, even by the ‘dutchmen’ coaches.

    The logic behind sports and politics eludes me completely. Sports is about individual achievement, being better than the rest, excelling above the expected. Politics is about equality, pleasing the masses and the satisfying of the majority. These two institutions are Mutually Exclusive.

    And worst of all, sport has done more for the country than politics has.

    The struggle is over people. Luke, you are not your Father.

    October 15, 2008 at 10:35 am
  15. Chris Louw #

    When Danie Craven is quoted in an a-historical manner, what about looking at the much admired Ghandi’s comments about black people? Things change (accept for the well-to-do Watsons); just read Mandela in the 1960s and compare that to what he said in the 1990s.

    We all seem to have very selective memories.

    As humnas we are subjects of the historical context we live in. Maybe Luke Watson should start realising how privilaged he is, living a millionaire’s life while claiming victimhood.

    October 19, 2008 at 6:23 pm
  16. Theuns Kruger #

    Hi Bonga

    A bit late to react on your query about Doc Craven. True, he said:”No black player will play for the Springboks AS LONG AS THE NATIONAL PARTY GOVERNS. The last part of the quote is conviniently left out. It is common knowledge that Craven had no time for politicians, especially members of the NP. He was never a member of the Broederbond, check out the list in the Super Afrikaners (Strydom and Wilkonson,I think) He also pissed off the whole NP when he met a delegation of the ANC in Harare long before Van Zyl Slabbert took his delegation up to Dakar.

    October 21, 2008 at 11:17 am
  17. Ernst van der Merwe #

    If the loud minority is so hungup on getting rid of the Springbok, including Stofile (Sports Minister), cant we have a referendum at our rugby stadiums when the Springboks and/or Provincial teams play ? That will ensure that true democracy is ensured, those who have a true interest in the game decides about the emblem. I predict that the Springbok emblem will outlive the shelve life of any politician. Why allow them to dictate ?

    October 21, 2008 at 8:31 pm
  18. Also from the struggle #

    I grew up the son of a single mother. She was a white, Afrikaans doctor who had a surgery in downtown Bloemfontein in the early 80′s. Her patients where primarily people who had been ‘detained’ at Bloemfontein central Police station. Our family did not make millions from being in the struggle, we got raided by the CCB, exiled, and villianised. In fact, as many of her patients were the poor, she struggled to put on the table. We are a white, Afrikaans family, who believed freedom and an ethical treatment of all stood above everything else, including personal profit.

    I love the Springbok emblem, more than I love rugby. If you feel so negative about the jersey, do what many of those who were exiled or killed did, put your moral standards above your personal gain. If you feel the Springbok jersey is not good enough for you to wear due to political connotations, don’t wear it. But do not sully the team by statements so idiotic that it makes me wonder how you are capable of actually drawing breath.

    October 22, 2008 at 2:13 pm
  19. Brent #

    Hullo South Africans!!!! – in sport it is us vs the world – if we do not get together and fight the others we will always lose. In joining together and winning more than loosing….. hey there is a benifit, we forge a unified nation. Naive but true, being simple works in real life.

    Brent from Sharkland

    October 24, 2008 at 1:53 pm


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