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SA rugby camp faces probe

Cape Town: South African Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour slammed the Springboks’ military-style preparations for the Rugby World Cup on Wednesday, demanding an inquiry into the “disgusting” coaching methods.

He was speaking after a video of naked Springboks at so-called Kamp Staaldraad (Camp Steel-wire) was broadcast around the world. “This was apartheid-style military training and was dehumanising for the players,” Balfour told reporters after a four-hour meeting with South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) president Silas Nkanunu.

“In my discussions with the SARFU president I expressed my total condemnation and disgust at elements of the camp,” he said. At the three-day “boot-camp” ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Australia, players were forced naked into a freezing lake to pump up rugby balls.

The Springboks, the 1995 world champions, were thrashed 9-29 by the New Zealand All Blacks in the quarter finals — the first time they had not reached the semi-finals. The video has been broadcast repeatedly by the London-based Sky News television.

It shows the national squad crawling naked through the African bush, carrying railway tracks and tractor tyres and standing in a freezing dam, with their hands and rugby balls covering their private parts.

Balfour said he had requested Nkanunu to consider extending the terms of reference of an inquiry into racism in South African rugby, to include an investigation into Kamp Staaldraad.

“While I accept and encourage the need for team building there is no place for militaristic and dehumanising practices in our sport,” Balfour said.

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