Responding to injustice
September 19, 2013, 10:48:32
By Colin Kennedy Roar Pro
The Springboks suffered an injustice in the Test played again the All Blacks this past weekend.
I am trying to ensure that the fact that I am a South African does not cloud my judgement in writing this, but they were really undone by the way that they failed to respond to the challenge.
I believe that it is true the Springboks have been on the receiving end of some dodgy calls since re-admission to international rugby, perhaps more so than some other teams.
I think it is possible that because the Springboks are regularly and unfairly dubbed bullies because of the physical nature of the way they play the game, there is a stigma or perception that has attached itself to them.
This does perhaps cloud the view of Northern Hemisphere referees; referees who do not have the relationship that the Southern Hemisphere referees have with all the players from the Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship.
Whether the South African perception of being unfairly targeted is true or not, the Springboks (and their fans) must use the experience to build character and resilience.
They must accept that this may be the status quo, and plan for how they will deal with it in the heat of battle.
Indeed, all teams and all fans should prepare for when things go wrong like this. Referees and officials are human.
They make mistakes, they have ulterior motives, they see things differently. Subjectivity is a human reality. Life is nasty.
However, games are won or lost by what goes on in the top half of the players’ heads. Adversity is supposed to make us stronger, but throwing our hands up and bemoaning an injustice will not fix the situation after the fact.
Adversity happens to everybody. Life is not fair. How we respond is the difference between winning and losing.
To expect an IRB angel to descend, wave a wand and fix the result, fix the injustice and fix the referees is just silly (particularly fixing the referees. It’s easier to time travel than fix that lot).
My point is, an injustice does not excuse giving up or responding with inarticulate rage.
An injustice is not license to throw your hands up and hope that somebody will come along and fix your problem for you, because the moment you do that you become a victim.
When the odds are against you, it is time to regroup, rethink and respond appropriately. I don’t believe the Springboks did that.
I think they let themselves get rattled, and they lost focus.
I believe that if an All Black had been unjustly red carded, the All Blacks would have played themselves into the ground – they would have used the injustice as fuel and they would have thrown everything at it.
That’s what makes them a great team.
The same goes for fans of both teams. There has been too much said, and too much of it has been angry, bitter and goading to the point of vileness.
True, much of it was by trolls from New Zealand and South Africa looking to gloat or vent, rather than The Roar’s regulars – but what did any of it accomplish? Absolutely nothing.
The doctors must have been dispensing a lot of blood pressure tablets in both countries. Anger hurts nobody but the angry person.
Instead of anger and recrimination, the message to the Springbok team (and any others who suffer an injustice, including the All Blacks) should be:
1. How will you use this to make you stronger?
2. How will you plan for this in the future, because it will – it will – happen again?
Everybody knows that anger clouds judgement and actually damages your health. There is a Chinese proverb that goes: “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow”.
It happens, but the mark of greatness is whether you get off that canvas and, with dignity and respect, whether you keep moving forward.
This applies to Wallabies because they are in the doldrums at the moment, to the Springboks because they were treated unfairly and to New Zealanders because when you’re the best everybody wants a piece of you.
In the words of Rocky Balboa: “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows, it’s a very mean, and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees, and keep you there permanently, if you let it“.
That’s not all he says, but never a truer word was said.
Think RWC 2007