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Mzansi Challenge: SARU to 'investigate' Round One snake pit

UPDATE: An attempt by a powerful Blue Bulls Rugby Union club to ‘highjack’ the floundering Mzansi Challenge competition failed dismally.

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The Blue Bulls Rugby Union had the audacity to crow publicly about the attempt of one of their clubs to ‘expropriate’ a South African Rugby Union competition.

Under the headline: ‘ANOTHER FIRST FOR BBRU CLUB RUGBY‘, the BBRU called the club, Naka Bulls, pioneers.

Naka Bulls announced to the world last Friday that they had entered into a ‘partnership’ with the American franchise San Clemente Rhinos.

The Rhinos was initially touted as an American-Mexican entry by SARU, but by the weekend it had become a Pretoria club side.

This became apparent when the BBRU confirmed that 18 Naka Bulls players would have featured in the Rhinos matchday 23 for their Mzansi Challenge Round One encounter with Falcons in Kempton Park.

It elicited a storm of protest and resulted in the Falcons ‘declining’ to play the match.

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It has also transpired that other unions expressed their unwillingness to play against the Naka-loaded Rhinos.

In the end, just two Mzansi Challenge matches took place at the weekend – one of those involving two South African provinces facing each other.

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In response, SARU confirmed that they are to “investigate” the imbroglio.

A spokesman for SARU confirmed to @rugby365com that the game between the Falcons and the San Clemente Rhinos did not take place because of ‘player eligibility concerns’.

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“SARU is investigating the circumstances,” the spokesman said about the Falcons’ decision to pull out of the match.

“We will follow the applicable disciplinary processes that may arise, once all information has been gathered,” he added.

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* There is also pressure on the Sacramento-based Rhinos team – whose next match is scheduled to take place on April 7, at Outeniqua Park, in George – where they will face off against the South Western Districts Eagles.

A group of major American Jewish organizations added their voices to the controversy over the exclusion of the Israeli team, Tel Aviv Heat, from the Mzansi Challenge.

The Rhinos replaced the Heat in the SARU-organised competition.

The 12 groups – including the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights – sent a letter the San Clemente Rhinos and USA Rugby protesting the decision of the Rhinos to join the competition in place of the excluded Israeli side, the Tel Aviv Heat.

Pointing out that SARU has ‘discriminated’ against the Heat by axing them from the tournament without sound reason, the group calls on the Rhinos to “lead the way”.

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“There is an unacceptable appearance that the San Clemente Rhinos are benefiting from discrimination against the Heat,” the statement said.

“It would be a significant mistake for you to participate in a discriminatory competition.”

In a statement on its social media platforms, the Rhinos said the “condemn” any form of discrimination.

“[The] Rhinos stands together with @TelAvivHeat players and coaches,” the American team said, adding: “[The] Rhinos stands together with all people in sport that uphold the core values of #inclusion and #Equality.”

However, there is no indication if they have formally withdrawn from the competition and @rugby365com has reached out to the Rhinos for comment.

@king365ed
@rugby365com

* Related

World Rugby and SARU silence is deafening
SARU forges ahead, despite fixture chaos
Mzansi Challenge: More Heat coming SARU’s way
SARU accused of peddling ‘politics of hatred’
SARU pulls the plug on Tel Aviv Heat

Rhinos-statement-on-twitter

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