Former Springbok winger Ashwin Willemse who stormed off a live TV show alleging he was a victim of racism from fellow pundits said Tuesday he was taking his complaint to the country’s human rights commission.
The black former international player spoke out for the first time since the spat in March when he walked out of a post-match discussion with two white ex-Springboks, Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, who were also game analysts.
“I will be allowed to engage at that appropriate forum and hopefully in that process restore my dignity,” Willemse told 702 talk radio, referring to the human rights commission, a statutory body set up after the end of apartheid.
“Let them tell us whether or not Ashwin you are legitimate in the pain which you are feeling or not,” he said.
An inquiry by the SuperSport channel found that Botha and Mallett’s conduct in an off-air conversation and in the live broadcast was not racist, but Willemse remained adamant about his claim.
It is true, you can’t keep a good man down. Congratulations to Ashwin Willemse for graduating from Wits University with a Master's degree in management specialising in entrepreneurship and new venture with a distinction. pic.twitter.com/u6numpGoaF— Mzilikazi wa Afrika (@IamMzilikazi) July 5, 2018
“I was clear to them (SuperSport) that I believed this incident was rooted in racism,” he said.
Black players were barred from South Africa’s national squad under apartheid and around half of the current side are white despite 90 percent of the population being non-white.
When he walked out of the studio, Willemse said he refused to be patronised by two men who played for their country in the apartheid era.
Finding a replacement for Warren Gatland was never going to be an easy job.
‘Gats’, as he is fondly known, will go down as one of the Red Dragons greatest ever coaches.
He will leave his position as the Wales head coach in November next year, post the Rugby World Cup in Japan, after over a decade in the role where he has (already) claimed two Six Nations crowns and a Rugby World Cup semi-final.
The Welsh Rugby Union have had plenty of time to find a successor. Gatland nominated his finishing date straight after the last World Cup in 2015 – giving the WRU four years to find a replacement.
At first many thought the job would go to one of Gatland’s loyal support staff – defence coach Shaun Edwards, backline coach Rob Howley or even forward coach Robin McBryde, who all played a huge part in the re-birth of Wales as a rugby power.
My brother & I are extremely proud of dad taking on his new position with @WelshRugbyUnion after the conclusion of the 2018/19 season with @scarlets_rugby .We are very excited to see what the future holds for Wales & the Scarlets region as the journey continues 🏉🏴— Bradley Pivac (@brad_pivac) July 9, 2018
But as the years rolled by the trio were ruled out of calculation and in the end the WRU were left with a three man shortlist – all Kiwis: current Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, former Chiefs and now Glasgow Warriors coach Dave Rennie and the man they chose, Scarlets boss Wayne Pivac.
The 56-year-old former Auckland Police Constable will become the fourth Kiwi to take the reigns at Wales after Graham Henry (1998-2002), Steve Hansen (2002-04) and Gatland (2007-19).
You could accuse the Dragons of having a NZ bias but in reality these are three of the best coaches in World Rugby today.
Rennie took the Chiefs to their first ever Super Rugby title in 2012 and again the following year; Robertson won the Crusaders their first Super Rugby crown in almost a decade in his first season in charge last year (something Todd Blackadder couldn’t achieve in eight attempts) and Pivac, who won Scarlets their first Celtic League/PRO12 title in over a decade last season.
He then followed it up by taking them to Final of the PRO14 this season, as well as the semi-final of the Champions Cup – where they were defeated by the magnificent Leinster team. No shame in that.
In the end the WRU went for Pivac although it must have been incredibly tempting to hand the job to the irrepressible Robertson who has made the ‘Saders virtually unbeatable.
But Pivac has had undoubted success with the Scarlets not just with the results but the style of highly skilled, entertaining rugby they are playing.
Wales might be losing a great in Gatland but the Red Dragons will be in very safe hands.
The former Auckland and Fiji head coach has performed the same role at the Scarlets since 2014, masterminding a PRO12 title last year and securing passage into the semi-finals of the Champions Cup in the same season.
The former New Zealand Police constable has beaten fellow Kiwis Dave Rennie and Scott Robinson to the post, which will be vacated by Gatland after Japan 2019.
Pivac, 56, will remain at the Scarlets for the entirety of the 2018/19 season and will only officially come under WRU employment in July 2019.
“First and foremost, on behalf of everyone at the Scarlets, I would like to extend our congratulations to Wayne on his appointment. It will be a proud moment for us all when he takes to the helm as Wales Head Coach,” said Jon Daniels, Scarlets General Manager of Rugby.
“Clearly, finding Wayne’s replacement will be a major priority in the coming months and we are grateful to Wayne and the Welsh Rugby Union for keeping us updated, in an entirely professional and transparent manner, throughout the process.
Ladies and gents - the new Wales coach, Wayne Pivac 👀 pic.twitter.com/QaXBjcE0OE— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) July 9, 2018
“Over the last four years Wayne has facilitated the continuation of Scarlets’ development. Being consistently competitive in both the PRO14 and in Europe, has been our aim now for three or four years and will continue to do so.
“We had a one, three and five-year strategy; winning the PRO12 in 2017 was probably a year ahead of where we had forecast to be and that is down to the hard work of the group, of the people involved, to get us to that stage earlier than planned, but that just shows the quality across every department.
“The forthcoming season will be hugely significantly for us all at the Scarlets and ensuring that we build on the momentum and successes from previous seasons will be key. We would also like to be in a position to ensure that Wayne finishes his tenure, here at Parc y Scarlets, with silverware.”
“Having twelve months to find a replacement is something of a luxury in professional sport but as a result we’re now able to follow our detailed recruitment process to ensure we find a Head Coach with ambition and aspiration to continue our rugby performance strategy.
“We are extremely proud of the established environment we have here at the Scarlets and this will not only allow us to continue to be competitive this coming season but we’ll also be in a strong and stable position in readiness to welcome the new Head Coach in twelve months time.
“I know Wayne will agree, we have a strong team here now, of coaches, players and backroom staff. There are a number of people who have contributed to our success under Wayne’s guidance and will continue to contribute and push the region forward this season and after his departure. I am confident we are strong enough to continue to thrive moving forward.”
Wayne Pivac in the room! The Scarlets boss has been formally unveiled as the next Wales coach. pic.twitter.com/lgbbmS5L2t— Simon Thomas (@simonrug) July 9, 2018
Pivac’s appointment is the latest example of people maximising their ability at the Scarlets and is the result of a two year process undertaken by Welsh Rugby Union Chief Executive Martyn Phillips and Chairman Gareth Davies, which has involved meticulous research and extensive consultation, and today’s announcement leaves a year-long gap ahead of his start date, by design.
Phillips said; “I am extremely grateful to the Scarlets for their support of this process and their Chairman, Nigel Short, in particular who has been first class throughout.
“Both Wayne and Warren and their coaching teams, our international players, supporters and everyone at the Scarlets now have clarity and there is no underestimating the positive benefit to be gained from having the time to plan properly for the future.
“What coach, whether they are in Wales or anywhere around the rugby playing world, would not relish the opportunity to join a team of such rich history and proven professionalism as the Scarlets.
“I would like to think that given the heritage of the Scarlets, their culture, passionate supporters, their track record of success and the quality of their squad that the Head Coach position will be one of the most sought after in rugby.”