South Africa rugby chief calls out ’embarrassment’ as World Cup ban looms

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South Africa are facing possible sanctions at the Rugby World Cup for non-compliance with anti-doping regulations. The Springboks look set to miss the Friday deadline to update their anti-doping legislation in compliance with WADA’s regulatory changes. SA chief Mark Alexander stated that it is a “disgrace” and an “embarrassment” for the country.

WADA updated its code in 2021, and South Africa and Bermuda are the only countries that haven’t changed their regulations to factor in the new WADA legislation. According to AFP, this could lead to South Africa being barred from flying their flag and playing their national anthem during Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final against France.

Meanwhile, they could also be forced to don jerseys without their flag on. The national rugby team reportedly won’t have enough time to change their legislation by the end of the week but can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in order to buy themselves time.

An anonymous South African sports ministry told AFP on Monday that they will be announcing their next steps early next week and confirmed that an appeal is among their options. Another minister also stated that “there is no way we will be in a situation where our teams will not play under the South African flag.”

SA Rugby president Alexander has been left incensed by the situation. “We have this problem because our government failed to have new legislation promulgated,” he said. “It is a disgrace. It is an embarrassment for our country. They were issued notice well in advance.

“This is not a debatable thing. You cannot change things. You just have to put it in your legislation. We are supposed to conform to WADA requirements. We failed to change our legislation to include the changes.”

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Alexander then added: “Heads should roll.” Speaking on Sunday, Springboks scrum coach Daan Human insisted that the players weren’t bothered by the flag issue.

“The Springbok players are 100 per cent focused on the job, on what needs to be done this week,” said Human. “It does not matter in which colour jersey, or a jersey without a flag on, or even without the national anthem.

“I can assure you of one thing – the players, the coaches and the backroom staff are here to represent South Africa. They represent 60 million people back home and they are willing to fight for them.”

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