The day rugby’s image was soiled

ON July 11, I waited in a vehicle queue at the Caltex Sunridge station to refuel my car. After almost two hours I was the next in line to be refuelled when two vehicles were suddenly allowed to enter ahead of me. The boom attendant could

give me no explanation for this, and merely maintained a blank expression.


One of the queue-jumping vehicles was a purple Nissan twin-cab driven by a middle-aged, florid white man. I asked him why he was given preference?


He said nothing but gestured weakly towards the other car, which was a beige Isuzu Trooper driven by a young black man. With him were some colleagues including a big, plump black man with the insignia of the Zimbabwe rugby team stretched across his ample bosoms.


The large fellow complacently said “national rugby team” when I queried the queue-jumping. He and his colleagues obviously felt that they were sufficiently intimidating and important to get away with this, and the white rugby official expected that he could sneak in with them.


Since I did not regard the explanation as adequate, I removed ignition keys from the front vehicle and thereby made sure that I was refuelled first, after a lot of dithering and embarrassment on the part of the Caltex attendants. I then returned the ignition keys whereupon the rugby representatives increased, rather than decreased, their abuse.


Having lost face, the younger player attempted to pull me from my car, ripped my shirt, tugged off my watch, screamed at me and generally got obnoxious. However, this was a pretty pathetic attempt and suggests that tackling and scrums are not strong aspects of the national rugby team.


The thugs skulked off, muttering profanity and racial insults when I said I would charge them with assault unless they got control of themselves. The station manager kept a low profile during all this, while the white rugby official did nothing to intervene and in fact aggravated the incident.


Although the incident was amusing in some respects, it bears reporting on a serious note since it reflects two alarming aspects.


Firstly, it presents an exceptionally poor image for the national rugby team.

Secondly, it highlights the need for basic social discipline and human decency on the part of Zimbabweans – especially those who consider themselves to be public figures – in attempting to share the scarce resources that are currently available in this country.


Can we allow “sportsmen” to take preference over essential service providers, pensioners and other citizens in our society?


R du Toit,

Harare.