Controversial Western Province loose forward Luke Watson has launched a bizarre attack on his Springbok teammates, South African rugby, administrators and even the late Danie Craven.
But most of all, in his melodramatic outburst, he claimed that he felt so nauseated by wearing the Springbok jersey that he wanted to vomit on it.
Rugby 365′s Jan De Koning writes that another claim he made was that “the problem with SA rugby is that it is controlled by Dutchmen”, whilst Watson also suggested that SA rugby is “rotten to the core” and that “the men who sit on my left and right of me in the change room despise me for who I am”.
In another instance, there was an inference that an incident in which veteran Bok fullback Percy Montgomery proposed that wing Jongi Nokwe toast his teammates at a Springbok dinner was an example of racism within the Bok camp.
Watson’s comments came at the Ubumbo Rugby Festival at the University of Cape Town Rugby Football Club (UCTRFC) on Friday, October 3.
And the speech was delivered in the week before his father, Cheeky Watson, joined the clamour for the Springbok to be removed as an emblem from the various national rugby teams of South Africa.
The loose forward – who was controversially included in the Bok team last year by South African Rugby Union (SARU) President Oregan Hoskins, despite strong resistance from World Cup-winning coach Jake White – was the keynote speaker at UCT.
Watson made reference to his family’s political connections with the anti-apartheid struggle and said he bore the “burden” of wearing the Springbok jersey because “there was a bigger picture”.
“We need to see the bigger picture and realise that the here and now is not just the here and now, but the here and now only exists because of those who went before us and because of those who are still to come,” Watson said.
“Me having to wear the Springbok jersey, to keep myself from vomiting on it, because there is a bigger picture, because men and women have bled for me to get there.
“Did I ever want to be there? No, it’s never been my dream, but I chose this burden with the greatest of pride and satisfaction, knowing that my father Cheeky Watson laid down his life to get me there.
“Knowing that Zola Yeye laid down his life, Archie Mkele, legends from the Eastern Cape where I grew up, known to me as my uncles and my fathers, knowing that they fought for me to get here, and that my job is to bear the burden and carry the torch of hope,” he said, adding that he was not fighting for himself, but for a “greater cause”.
Watson, who also admitted that he had never been accepted by his Springbok teammates, also made reference to an incident at the Springbok training camp last year when he wanted to walk out because of the animosity towards him.
“I stand before you as a man, that I can honestly say I’m transformed,” he said.
“It has taken many, many valleys, many, many mountains to get there. I sat with my father, last year in the Springbok camp. I was in the hotel. I said: ‘Dad, I’m leaving. This place is despicable, it’s disgusting. The men won’t talk to me, they won’t greet me, the very coach won’t greet me. They walk past me. I sat at a table by myself; they wouldn’t eat with me, because I was a political pawn.’
“But yet, Danie Craven has stadiums named after him. Danie Craven, the very man that said a black man will never play for the Springboks; he’s got stadiums named after him, he’s got traditions [tournaments] in honour of his name, statues erected.
“But yet I’m a political pawn? The little white boy in the corner, that sits with his mouth shut eating by himself?
“My father said: ‘Luke, unpack your bag’. I said: ‘Why?’.
“He said: ‘Too many people, Luke, have bled, so that you can be here, whether you play or not, your very presence symbolises victory, symbolises a step forward, symbolises us coming up against South African rugby, an institution that is rotten to the very core’.”
Watson also made reference to an interview he did with a journalist in Wellington, New Zealand, last year during the Super 14, in which his father’s role in the struggle again came up.
“I’m sitting in Wellington last year, during the Super 14, and a reporter comes up to me. He says: ‘Luke I interviewed your father Cheeky Watson about 20 years ago and I asked him: ‘Cheeky, why are you doing this?’.
“And this is the defining moment in my life, when I got respect for him. He [the journalist] said: ‘Luke, your father looked at me and said: The reason I am doing this, is so I can look my son in he eye one day and say I made a difference, I stood up when others ran away. I faced the enemy when cowards fled, so I can look in the eye of my son one day and say I’ve made a difference’.”
The loose forward also made other political and biblical references in trying to explain his own life’s journey.
“You see ladies and gentlemen, the beauty about truth is that truth… truth is down to what you want to be,” said Watson.
“Apartheid, apartheid was the most righteous thing they could have done, that was the truth the white man chose to believe. The Bible, it supports apartheid, it supports the KKK, it supports all these white extremists, because that is the truth they chose to believe.
“That is the perception they have in the world.
“I remember growing up in high school saying I wanted to be a professional rugby player. Even now I’m of small stature compared to the other big boys, but back then I was of even smaller stature. My teachers back then, I can even remember them by name, looked at me in a way that said: ‘You will not make it’ – because that was their perception.
“But my truth was different to their truth, my reality was different to their reality. Because of my perception, because I looked past and I saw the hope in the future… I went past the here and now and realised that there was a bigger picture.”
In explaining how he “transformed” himself, Watson again made reference to the “bigger picture” and the “bigger cause” in his life.
“I’m not throwing some political twist to this transformation, I’m not saying transformation of South African rugby. I’m not saying transformation of the man next to me, on my left or on my right.
“I’m saying transformation of Luke Watson. Because, when I’ve transformed, when I’ve pushed on, when I’m alive, when I’m reaching for my destiny, the man next to me he will automatically get upset. The man next to me automatically gets uncomfortable.
“He looks at me and says: ‘There is something different about this man, there is something different about Luke Watson. He can’t be bought – I can’t throw the Springbok jersey at him and expect him to beg for it, to be on his knees, because it is not going to happen’.
“Because my heart, my soul, my very being, was stolen many years ago, by a cause far greater than my own.”Tweet