Rugby Union: Anthem playing draws ANC's ire

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The Independent Online
SOUTH AFRICA'S rugby future has been thrown into jeopardy following a row with the African National Congress due to a controversial decision to reverse an agreement not to play national anthems prior to the Test against New Zealand, writes Terry O'Connor from Johannesburg.

The ANC is to review its position on international rugby contacts which could threaten the Test against Australia at Cape Town on Saturday and tours to France and England in the autumn.

The South African national anthem 'Die Stem' is considered by the ANC to represent the symbols of repression which they have been fighting against for years.

Before the Test match a minute's silence was observed in memory of the victims of township violence but this was ignored as spectators sang 'Die Stem'. Later both national anthems were played although it had been officially announced this would not happen. Although the South African national flag did not fly over the stadium, there were thousands waved by spectators, many of whom invaded the pitch.

An ANC official said: 'We will discuss the position of current and future tours on Monday. If need be we might use whatever methods possible to prevent play due to the obvious rejection of reconciliation.' International sporting contacts were only made possible by ANC approval.