THE SOUTH African 'bishops have condemned the Irish rugby team's proposed tour of' South Africa, which is due to begin tomorrow. The controversy was further fuelled this week by an incident at a Catholic school in the country's capital, Pretoria.
The bishops' statement did not refer directly to the Irish tour but it said that they supported sports boycotts as "an effective means of applying pressure for Change."
The statement said: that the great inequality between black and white South Africans was evident in sport as in other areas of life.
It continued: "We wish to encourage ail attempts to bring about real change in South Africa by non-violent means. Sports boycotts are an effective means of applying pressure for change. We regret to cause distress to South African sportsmen but sec a boycott as a short term disappointment which could
encourage sportsmen together with others to work for a changed society in which boycotts will be a ghost of the past."
Dr Danie Craven, head of the white South African rugbyboard, said the bishops' statement was "heathenish".
Opponents of the tour have seized on an incident at the Christian Brothers' College in Pretoria as another clear demonstration or continuing racism in sport.
The school's rugby team included two blacks, both sons of diplomats: they were about to start their match against Waterkloof, a government school, when one of the Waterkloof teachers said that his school would not compete against a mixed team.
Brother Donald Kennedy, the .CBC headmaster promptly cancelled the match. He said later: "I am an Irishman and I am in favour lithe Irish team visiting South Africa but this unfortunate incident can only put the Irish tour in further jeopardy."