Race issue drove Mujati abroad

Mon, 22 Apr 2013 18:40
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Springbok prop Brian Mujati says he decided to continue his career overseas as he felt he was only a token quota selection.

Springbok prop Brian Mujati says he decided to continue his career overseas as he felt he was only a token quota selection.

Mujati made the last of his 12 Springbok appearances in the record 42-6 win over England at Twickenham in 2008.

The victory was bittersweet for Mujati, who had to be content with a cameo off the bench despite initially being selected ahead of starting tighthead Jannie du Plessis.

Having started in just two of his 12 Tests, Mujati said he realised he was being used as a political pawn and opted to join English club Northampton Saints.

“We played against Scotland, Bismarck du Plessis got injured in the first minute and I played the rest of the match,” Mujati told the Daily Mail.

“We won, then our last Test of the tour was against England. On the Monday, I came down to breakfast and found out they had flown in Jannie du Plessis from South Africa.

“I thought, ‘All right, he is here as cover’, but in training Jannie was doing all the drills, then they announced the team and Jannie was starting. I felt really let down.

“South Africa pick guys because of their race, because they’ve got to have two or three black guys in the squad. It became clear I was one of those selections. I called my agent and said I wanted to leave.”

Mujati admitted to having a personal agenda when he started his Northampton tenure.

“I wanted to play well and have them come and beg me to play for the Springboks again. It was a stupid thing to think!” he said.

Another contributing factor to Mujati’s exit  was the controversy surrounding his estranged father’s role in seizing land from white farmers in Zimbabwe and it’s impact on the Zimbabwean-born front row forward’s career.

It’s a topic Mujati has refused to discuss in the past but one he broke his silence on ahead of his final home game this weekend before his move to French club Racing Metro.

“From the time I was finishing school, my relationship with my father was cut. I went to South Africa and he went his own way. He started getting involved with farms and stuff like that in Zimbabwe,” said the 28-year-old.

“The story broke in South Africa that my father had been involved in land-grabs and was using that to fund my career. A guy whose farm was taken by my father wrote about what happened. He had a son who played rugby.

“In the week leading up to my first Test for the Springboks, he was saying that there were so many opportunities his son could have had if my father hadn’t taken his farm. I didn’t even know where my father was.

“I tried to let it blow over, but it escalated. So when I left South Africa I was relieved and thought that everyone would just leave me alone.

“As time wore on, I realised that there was nothing I could do. I haven’t seen my dad in over a decade, but somehow he was supposed to have been funding me! I have stopped being angry about all that.”

Mujati’s form saw him being approached by the Springboks ahead of the 2011 World Cup but his comeback was blocked as he was unable to obtain a South African passport despite input from Government and the South African Rugby Union’s best efforts.

“For me, that was the end of the road with the Springboks. Mentally, I had to give up on it. But in a way, knowing that they wanted me back was enough,” said Mujati.

Source: Daily Mail