Friday, November 21, 2008
I thought I'd mention briefly some of the reasons I decided against playing rugby here in Italy. First, I thought that I was misunderstanding the political positions and locations of certain individuals because of poor Italian. I also misunderstood several other things, which I will mention in a moment. Initially I stopped playing because I was injured and I had too much work with the PhD. Later, I decided not to return because of politics and racism. Oh well...
This all became even clearer for me recently when a Roman friend of mine described his experiences playing rugby. He'd played a bit as a kid when in Brussels and decided to take it up in Rome, he told me how the players tell one another, when in a ruck or scrum when trying to obtain the ball to 'Caccia il negro', which translates literally as 'hunt the nigger', in fact the ball is often just referred to as 'il negro'. I recalled my own teammates saying this but I didn't understand at that point in time because my Italian was barely sufficient to say my name, let along understood colloquial racist slurs.
On top of this, the beliefs South Africans have about 'right wing' Afrikaners and Rugby is nothing compared to the fascists I met when playing rugby, and the fascist tendencies that my friend described to me of the team he tried to play with (and subsequently left). Absolute belief that Mussolini was dead right, swastika tattoos, immigrant haters (though they don't mind blonde, white English or US immigrants) and more. Crazy times.
Anyway, so if you thought SA had problems with racism and rugby, or politics and rugby, think again. Yes, it is occasionally bad in SA, but at least you don't hear about South African Afrikaans teams saying 'hunt the k***'. Ah... Europe.