SARU accused of peddling 'politics of hatred'
REACTION: Tel Aviv Heat, Israel’s first professional team, has slammed the South African Rugby Union for peddling ‘politics of hatred ‘.
The outburst came after SARU announced this past Friday that it had “withdrawn” an invitation to Tel Aviv Heat to play in the Mzansi Challenge.
“We have listened to the opinions of important stakeholder groups and have taken this decision to avoid the likelihood of the competition becoming a source of division, notwithstanding the fact that Israel Is a full member of World Rugby and the IOC,” SARU President Mark Alexander said in a statement last Friday.
This did not go down well with the Israeli outfit.
“The Tel Aviv Heat was surprised and disappointed to learn of the decision taken by SARU to withdraw its invitation to the Tel Aviv Heat to compete in the upcoming 2023 Mzansi Challenge,” the Heat said in a strongly-worded statement.
The Heat took exception to SARU saying they had “listened to the opinions of important stakeholder groups”.
“SARU did not consult with the Tel Aviv Heat, the Israel Rugby Union, or the Israeli Embassy in South Africa prior to the decision,” the Heat said in its own statement.
“Blocking participation in the Mzansi Challenge has deprived the Tel Aviv Heat of a strategic opportunity to continue its development as an elite professional rugby team and to build valuable brand equity in South Africa and other Mzansi Challenge markets and unjustly punishes and demoralizes players, coaches, staff, and supporters in the midst of preparing for the competition.”
The Israeli outfit suggested SARU “will sow further division in South Africa and beyond by bolstering voices dedicated to vilify, demonize, and censor those who do not share their views”.
“In the end, SARU’s decision runs contrary to the spirit and core values of rugby, promotes the politics of hatred and retribution over the best interests of sport, and exposes the Tel Aviv Heat and its supporters to being targeted by aggressive, hateful language designed to intimidate, delegitimize, and silence,” the statement concluded.
The Mexican Rhinos have been earmarked to replace them, pending approval by the General Council.
The Mzansi Challenge is scheduled to kick off on March 24.
The visiting teams currently on the roster are the Diables (Spain), Simbas (Kenya), Welwitschias (Namibia), and Goshawks (Zimbabwe).
They will be joined by South African provinces the Leopards, Falcons, Boland Cavaliers, Eastern Province, Border Bulldogs, and SWD Eagles.