Sports Letter: A part of apartheid

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Sir: As a sports Blue who lived in South Africa for years, married there into a part-Afrikaans family, helped write official apartheid propaganda (until the penny dropped) and during the 1980s here wrote reports for the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee and the UN on white South Africans' use of sport for propaganda purposes, I am sorry to disagree with Steve Bale's somewhat anodyne interpretation (Independent, 24 March) of the BBC2 film Beloved Country: Black Men Bite.

The real story is not of wealthy farmers boasting of arranging a few all-white vs all-black rugby matches - already 'old hat' in South Africa several years ago, and thus hardly 'news'. It is along the coast in Port Elizabeth, where Daniel Watson, a 1976 Springbok trialist, deserves the credit for playing in and coaching black rugby teams despite massive harassment by white neighbours and apartheid courts, while all other whites were playing racist rugby.

Indeed, less than a year befere most of the BBC2 film's interviews, the Independent's John Carlin not only exposed the above facts, but also the truth about that area's rugby in his report of 29 March 1992: that there were but three usable rugby pitches for more than a million blacks, but more than fifty for only 150,000 whites. Facts not even hinted at in the BBC2 film, yet much more pertinent than a wealthy white farmer graciously allowing blacks to play against, but not in his pet white rugby team.

I found the film concerned atypical and superficial. Not to mention more than a little misleading.