This change of attitude in rugby, which in South Africa has been a white citadel until now, is nothing short of amazing. But changes are also evident elsewhere. In a national invitation meet at the exclusively all-white Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg, black athletes, including Matthews Batswadi (who won a splendid 5,000 meters), Edward Sinani (winner of the 200 meters) and Sam Ditsele (800-meter winner), were cheered all the way. "There was nothing multinational about the meeting," said an official. "It was multiracial, and magnificently so. We invited the black athletes on ability and spectator appeal alone."
After the meet Batswadi, a product of the Western Deep Levels Gold Mine Athletic Club, said, "Can you imagine how I feel? I run against the best whites in the country and we are sportsmen all. And I win and it's great and I know that they don't resent my winning. I hear the crowds, the whites, applauding. And I'm thinking as I run, 'We've got something, we've got something.' And then it's all over and you look to the world, to the international scene, and you wonder, 'Where do we go from here?' " Sinani said, "Yes, it's moving. And how much faster would we all be now if this competition had been with us from the beginning, and if we blacks had got the sort of coaching that many whites get from youth."
As the Southern Transvaal League track and field season began, it was announced that meets would be open to all races. Other provincial leagues are likely to follow. South Africa's soccer associations, black and white, are getting together to work out a formula for "normalizing," as it's called, their sports. And on the cricket fields of the highveldt, the barriers, like the wickets, are tumbling down. In the Premier League established for the Transvaal, two white cricketers turned out for a non-white club against a white team. One was a former Springbok wicketkeeper, Dennis Gamsy, the other a former Natal University cricket captain, journalist Marshall Lee. Said Lee, "Playing for the non-white side was a new experience for me. It made me realize that it's the game that counts."
There is still opposition in high places, however, to anything that might go beyond government policy. Administrators, more than sportsmen, are afraid to rock the boat. "My experience over the years has been that white commitment to non-racial sport is just lip service to get international recognition." says Hassan Howa, president of the non-white Western Province Cricket Board. "We want whites to show their good faith by rejecting completely government policy, to commit themselves totally to allowing clubs to admit whom they wish so that we can have real multiracial sport."
One of the country's leading black sportswriters, Theo Mtembu, says, "I'm supremely optimistic about sport and race relations in South Africa. I've been a sportsman and a sportswriter for some years, and I can remember when a visiting team came here to play the all-white so-called national side, and we shouted for the visitors. The South African side wasn't completely our side, you see.
"And then I think my greatest moment was watching that Argentinian soccer game against a mixed South African side, and I saw those players, black and white, hug each other like school kids when Jomo Sono began scoring those beautiful goals of his. And the crowd, blacks and whites, cheered with one voice. And then there was the rugby match in Port Elizabeth. 'Listen,' I said to pals. 'Listen to what?' they said. 'Listen to the barriers falling,' I said. 'Listen to the walls come tumbling down.' Sure we've got a long way to go. And for a lot of people we aren't moving fast enough. But I know that South African sportsmen are learning, even if they're learning late, that integration's the name of the game."