Rugby Union: Springboks' match under threat: The South African rugby codes are locked in conflict. Dave Hadfield reports on the far-reaching implications

THE Springboks' rugby union match at Elland Road this autumn is being threatened by calls for them to be barred from the ground if the South African Rugby Union does not lift its ban on rugby league.

The Springboks are due to play the North at the stadium - which is used by Leeds United and Hunslet RLFC but owned by Leeds City Council - on 10 November.

But the Rugby League Supporters' Association has complained to the council. 'We want the council to ask the South African Rugby Union to lift its ban on rugby league,' the RLSA's secretary, Tony Collins, said. 'If not, they should tell them that they are not welcome at Elland Road.

'We are not in favour of stopping any game, but if the SARU is taking discriminatory action against rugby league then there is no reason why they should be able to avail themselves of facilities maintained by poll tax payers in Leeds.'

The RLSA is waiting for an official response from the council. 'On an informal level, there has been considerable interest,' said Collins, who has also contacted the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the African National Congress to tell them of the initiative.

There has been increasing amateur rugby league activity in South Africa over the last two years, with rugby union players taking the opportunity to try the game, alongside many who had never played either code of rugby.

But an instruction from the SARU to its member provinces last month effectively banned rugby union players from playing league as well as forbidding the use of rugby union grounds.

The instruction says that amateur rugby league constitutes a threat to union and may lead to the formation of a professional rugby league in South Africa.

Collins says that the SARU is in contravention of its own International Board's policy of a 'free gangway' between the two codes for amateur players.

The International Rugby Football Board, however, says that member countries can 'frame additional regulations relating to amateurism, provided they are not in conflict with the Board's regulations and are only effective within that particular Union.'

The Board's secretary, Keith Rowlands, has written to the RLSA that 'it is my contention that the SARU has acted within its rights as provided within our bye-laws'.

Collins says that makes a nonsense of the much-vaunted 'free gangway'. 'It leaves member countries free to discriminate against league as they see fit,' he said.

The South African Rugby League, which has been particularly active in Soweto and other black townships, is to fight the ban in the country's courts.

'This is typical of the disregard and intolerance the Union has for people who do not share their views. It is an unlawful invasion of an individual's right to choose the game in which he wishes to participate,' its president, J C Strauss, said.

The SARL secretary, Dave Southern, said: 'Our lawyers say that the Rugby Union don't have a leg to stand on, but we also need all the international support we can get.'

Tony Simpson, the press officer for the Rugby Union's Northern Division, said that he was unaware of any clash between the two codes in South Africa or any protest over the match. 'We obviously hope that the arrangement to use Elland Road will stand,' he said.

The Division had made provisional arrangements to use the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield, another council-owned ground whose main tenants are Sheffield Eagles rugby league side, if the date clashed with Leeds United's second-round tie in the European Champions' Cup, but a clash is no longer likely.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions