Watson regrets 'Dutchmen' remark
Kings captain Luke Watson has expressed his remorse for saying that rugby in South Africa was ‘run by Dutchmen’ three years ago.
Kings captain Luke Watson has expressed his remorse for saying that rugby in South Africa was ‘run by Dutchmen’ in an infamous speech three years ago.
Watson for the first time admitted to making the remark and said it is one of his greatest regrets.
“I have tried to deny it in the past, but the fact of the matter is I slipped up and made a mistake. In a heated debate and discussion, I used those words,” Watson told Radio 702's Sports Talk.
“It is the one thing in my life that I regret more than anything. In a heated moment, I took out my anger and my frustration, all the hurt and the tough times I have been through in my life.
“It’s something that even to this day I am deeply ashamed and deeply embarrassed about, because I have loads of Afrikaans friends, loads of people in my life that have supported me and invested in me in the Afrikaans community.”
Watson explained that his intention was to highlight the imbalances he believed existed in South African rugby and not to take a shot at Afrikaans people. He assured that he does not stand by those words with the Kings less than a month away from making their Super Rugby debut.
“I cannot be more opposed to venomous talk like that today. I never meant it in that [a derogatory] regard. Do I believe that there is still a massive need for transformation in this South African rugby? Yes. Do I believe that South African rugby is still controlled by white people? Yes.
“That black people are not afforded the same opportunities that they should be afforded? The black community is not invested in, in the way it should be? Yes. But the word Dutchmen will never leave my mouth again and I’m bitterly disappointed in myself that I did use the word,” said Watson.
Watson also admitted to making a remark that insinuated that South African rugby made him so nauseous that he wanted to vomit on the Springbok jersey and spoke about his controversial inclusion in the Springbok squad.
Watson explained: “It wasn’t those exact words but you have to have the full background to the story. When I started playing decent rugby at decent levels I quickly became an instrument and a pawn. I was taken advantage of at times.
“In my youth and naivety I was manipulated quite a bit. For example, being the 46th man in Jake White’s 45-man squad…not a good way to start. I always knew I shouldn’t be there because I wasn’t selected but there was a massive amount of political pressure behind me, certain politicians and influential people saying 'Luke, you need to be there, we fought for you to be there, so many people spilt blood for the liberation of rugby in this country. You are a symbol of liberation and that struggle.'
“I was a young kid being sold this story. Whether it was true or not was irrelevant. In hindsight I would’ve withdrawn but being a young kid I was under a substantial amount of pressure so I just did what I was told was the right thing to do.”