Maori rugby hit race barrier in S Africa - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Maori rugby hit race barrier in S Africa

19/02/2009 11:02:42 AM Comments (0)

A plan to resurrect the New Zealand Maori rugby side for a one-off match against the Springboks in South Africa's infamous township Soweto is in jeopardy because the team are selected along racial lines.

In a significant irony, Maori players, who were banned from touring South Africa with the All Blacks during the apartheid regime, now appear to find themselves at odds with South Africa's current political system.

The match, proposed as a warm-up for the Springboks before they play the British and Irish Lions in June, has been welcomed by South African coach Peter de Villiers, who described it as imperative in terms of preparing his side for the three-test series.

A South African Rugby Union (Saru) statement on Thursday confirmed it was in consultation with its New Zealand counterpart regarding the fixture but the government's President's Council represented a potential stumbling block.

The council forbids South African rugby teams playing against opponents selected on racial lines, a decree that would include New Zealand Maori.

Saru strategic communications manager Andy Colquhoun said the council's resolution was a "fundamental stumbling block" to the match taking place while there were also financial and logistical issues to address.

A final decision is not expected until the end of March.

New Zealand Maori have no matches scheduled this year after the New Zealand Rugby Union chose to instead enter the Junior All Blacks in the International Rugby Board's Pacific Nations Cup.

The Springboks are due to meet lowly Namibia in Windhoek in late May and wanted the a harder match against New Zealand Maori as a final warm-up.

The series against the Lions starts in Durban on June 20.

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