Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has found himself at the bottom of a social media pile-on.
A journalist threw him a hospital pass of a question and the offside media clothes-lined him before almal started kicking him while he was down.
That’s basically what happened this week as Siya got himself tangled in a transformation row.
So like Ashwin Willemse and his pals Nick Mallett and Naas Botha would have done, let’s take this incident frame by frame and analyse it.
On Sunday, SA Rugby Magazine posted a link on Twitter to a story headlined “Kolisi: Mandela would not have supported quotas”.
In the story, Siya’s quotes, to a very vague question about transformation and the fact that the coach Rassie Erasmus must have a team that is 50% black at the this year’s World Cup, were taken out of context.
They even posted a video of the interview series except the one in which he talks about transformation.
And we didn’t want to touch the story because we couldn’t source Siya’s actual interview.
Obviously, it got people angry.
As the first black captain of the Springbok rugby team, how could this symbol of transformation ever question the necessity of non-racial sport?
Well, that’s not what Siya was saying.
The man who asked him the question, Japan-based rugby writer Rich Freeman saw the reaction in South Africa and posted the link to the full video.
We finally got the full story. Siya got to explain himself. But then another wave of tackles came in.
This time, people who read the comments were wilfully finding fault with the captain’s words.
After dismissing the quota system, the skipper explained how he thought transformation should work.
He said the development in the game should be accessible from a grassroots level to all, explaining how his own progress only came after earning a scholarship at a famous rugby school.
He was not as, the likes of well-known firebrand Thando Manana tried to twist it, saying that you can only make it to the Bok team if you go to a Model C school.
Getting back to the word “quota”, and how Siya is not keen to put a number on it, that’s exactly what players of colour want to distance themselves from.
That number suddenly becomes a target to reach and then the “quota” is full.
They all want to know that they are part of the team and not the quota.
Like he says: No one wants to get picked because of the colour of their skin.
But not once did Siya imply that he was against transformation in South African sport, as mense who reckon that the wrongs of the past have been righted and should be forgotten, celebrated.
He knows that it’s tougher for kids not privileged enough to go to SA’s elite schools to make it all the way to the top of the game in this country, having lived that experience.
What we witnessed in this replay of the incident was the combination of how the media, both mainstream and social, create and feed outrage.
SA Rugby Magazine sensationalised a personal opinion from a player who is well aware that he is a success of the transformation process and his role in the continued success of it.
Social media commentators need to understand that Siya was giving a heartfelt answer, even if it wasn’t so eloquent.
Siya isn’t the only player of the colour in the team either - Lukhanyo Am, Sbu Nkosi, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Embrose Papier, Warrick Gelant are all manne that have shown their match-winning abilities and value to the team.
And I’m sure that the presence of more black players in the game will do more for transforming the way we play rugby in South Africa too.