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Griquas boot All Black fan

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Dismissals prompted by complaint to Griquas from the SA Rugby Union.

Deon Carney. File image.

BACKING the All Blacks is not grounds for dismissal.

This is according to Deon Carney, the former Griqua rugby player and high school coach, who was removed from the list of candidates to take charge of one of the 2018 provincial youth week teams on the weekend, following complaints that he was an avid supporter of New Zealand’s national rugby team.

While the Griqualand West Rugby Union (GWRU) has defended its decision as a “patriotic act”, Carney, along with fellow coaching candidate and All Black supporter, Joe Molale, is demanding a thorough explanation over the union’s decision, which they believe has nothing to do with their ability to get the most out their teams and players.

In an exclusive interview yesterday, Carney said that he was still trying to come to terms with his dismissal, saying that it had come without prior incident or warning and after many years of loyal service to Griquas.

“On Friday afternoon we were having trials for the Griqua schools when I received a message from the union to inform me that I was to have a meeting with president Jannie Louw at 8am on Saturday morning,” Carney said. “I contacted the assistant coach of the academy team, who informed me that he had received the same instruction. Neither of us had any idea what it was all about.”

The coaching duo arrived at Tafel Lager Park on Saturday morning.

“We waited a while for Danie Slabbert (chairman of Griqua High Schools Rugby) to arrive for the meeting,” Carney continued.

“When he did, the president started talking and said that we had been cut from the team because we supported the All Blacks.”

According to Carney, their dismissal was prompted by a complaint to Griquas from the South African Rugby Union (Saru).

“I lived in New Zealand for three years, which is where I became a fan of the All Blacks and their style of rugby. I’m not going to deny liking the team because I have a right to freedom of choice and to back the side of my preference. I also support the Boks but it really shouldn’t matter as it has nothing to do with my ability as a coach.

“I asked for an official copy of the correspondence between Griquas and Saru but Louw said that he only has messages on WhatsApp, which he showed me.”

Carney pointed out that he has enjoyed a long and successful career with Griquas, having played for the Province at the Under-16 Grant Khomo Week all the way through to Currie Cup level, before focussing on his work as a coach, where he has enjoyed a fair amount of success.

“I was the assistant coach with the Craven Week team last year, when they managed to win three out of three. I am also coaching Northern Cape High School’s first XV and the school has said that it will support me through this process.

“I returned to the field, where the trials were still underway, and asked if I could stay and assist with the team selection in order to ensure that my school players are given a fair chance at making the sides. I was told that I may not and was asked to leave the field.

“When I approached my legal representative and asked for advice, he actually laughed and thought I was joking.

“I was advised to expose the matter in the media.”

Meanwhile, Louw emphasised yesterday afternoon that the duo had not been officially appointed to the team yet and he defended the union’s decision, stating that these measures had been motivated by patriotism.

“Our country needs more patriots and Griquas have decided to offer Saru our unwavering support,” he said. “Everyone has the right to choose who they support but that doesn’t entitle anyone to misuse our structures for their personal benefit.

“No employer would tolerate staff members coming to work in clothes with a rival company’s branding. New Zealand would never hire school coaches who walk around in Springbok jerseys.”

Louw stated that it would be extremely unfortunate should the two “strong candidates” be lost to South African rugby.

“We hope they come to their senses and are rehabilitated so we can give them another opportunity to be part of Griquas’ school structures,” he said.

“We had a good discussion and if they are willing to commit to supporting the Springboks, we would welcome them back with open arms.”