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SA silence at rugby

A MINUTE'S silence was observed before the rugby match in Cape Town yesterday between South Africa and Australia, which the visitors won 26-3.

After the debacle last Saturday before the South Africa-New Zealand match, when the crowd not only failed to observe the gesture for the township dead but also broke the ban on singing the national anthem of white South Africa - Die Stem - yesterday's spectacle saw a chastened crowd behaving impeccably.

Indeed, in a measure of how fearful they were that some fans might break the agreement with the African National Congress (ANC), the minute's silence ended with the crowd awarding themselves what turned out to be the biggest cheer of the day.

More out of relief, probably, than anything else. Had the ANC conditions been broken the chances were that planned tours to Britain and France later this year would have been called off. There was even talk that the Australian players might have walked off the pitch.

South African flags, although not displayed officially, were out in force in the stands. This was in part due to the zeal of the AWB, whose members were handing out pamphlets outside the stadium urging the crowd to wave the flag.

It was a despairing rearguard gesture. White South Africa suffered double defeat - dispensed by the Wallabies and by the ANC and the black majority they represent. National reconciliation also won a small, if grudging, victory.