NEWS
21/05/2018 12:49 SAST | Updated 21/05/2018 13:01 SAST

What Coaches And Former Boks Have To Say About Ashwin Willemse's Walkout

"I worked with Ashwin very closely... I know Ashwin, and he wouldn't react like that because of nothing."

Reuters Photographer / Reuters

Ashwin Willemse's walkout during a live SuperSport broadcast, after lashing out at fellow presenters Nick Mallett and Naas Botha on air and saying he would not be "patronised by two individuals who played in the apartheid/segregated era", has SA rugby circles abuzz.

I worked with Ashwin very closely – it seems an unfortunate incident that has been taken out of context. I know Ashwin, and he wouldn't react like that because of nothing. Eugene 'Loffie' Eloff

HuffPost spoke to several former Boks and coaches to get their take on the incident.

Touchline via Getty Images
Coach Eugene 'Loffie' Eloff celebrates with the SA U19 side, after defeating New Zealand in the IRB U19 World Championship at Absa Stadium; April 17 2005 in Durban.

Former Lions and SA U19 coach Eugene "Loffie" Eloff said: "I worked with Ashwin very closely, — it seems an unfortunate incident that has been taken out of context. I know Ashwin, and he wouldn't react like that because of nothing. I tried calling him and reaching out, but he is not picking up".

He added: "Nick and Naas are good people, and this whole incident is not good for SA rugby".

Coach Jimmy Stonehouse, director of rugby at the Pumas, said, "It was not a good thing for SA rugby — the whole country does not know what happened, and as a rugby fan, I would love for it to be resolved"

Getty Images
Jimmy Stonehouse, coach of the Pumas, after their victory during the Absa Currie Cup First Division Final match against SWD Eagles on October 16 2009 in Witbank Park.

Former Springbok great and retired coach Ray Mordt said, "It is difficult for anyone to comment. I feel the incident happened on an inappropriate platform. It should have been done off-screen, and I hope it can be resolved".

On Monday, HuffPost interviewed Errol Tobias, who became South Africa's first black Springbok back in the 1980s. Tobias believes that SA rugby has a long way to go — he said it needs to relook at its approach to the game, and work hard to change the view of rugby being a "white sport".

Getty Images

"No player should be branded 'a quota player'. In my time, we had outstanding Boks, all of them quality players, as good as their white counterparts."

Although Tobias was quick to stress that during his time as a Bok player, he was treated with the greatest respect, he was nevertheless "stunned and shocked" by the events that unfolded on Saturday.