June 27, 2006

Rugby player declared brain dead after being beaten and kicked in the head during game. : Police are still undecided if a South African rugby player is going to be charged with murder after killing an opponent on the playing field. Boland (South Africa) rugby player Riaan Loots was "pummelled" and "kicked in the head" by an unnamed member of the "Delicious Rugby Team" during a game last Friday. Loots was in a coma and declared brain-dead on Sunday. A club manager of "Delicious" said racism was the cause and blames the ref for being unfair.

posted by the red terror to extreme at 08:54 AM - 21 comments

Maybe if we were locals we would "just know," but it's interesting that neither one of the two articles spells out the details of the racial conflict. As far as I can tell it does not mention if the dead man was white or black. Urban dictionary defines:

hotnot: A person of color from Cape area in South Africa. Not white and not black. Brown skin color. Loves snoek/rugby and cheap wine.
So presumably the "racism" alleged is by white players on the Rawsonville team versus "brown" players on the Delicious team. You cannot blame the referee for this kind of violence -- that's ludicrous. "Hey, those guys are breaking the rules of this game, and the referee's not doing anything about it -- let's kill one of them!"

posted by Amateur at 09:22 AM on June 27, 2006

"Decisions he made were not consistent. For the whole game he favoured Rawsonville players." "It made my players feel very bad," Leendertz said. which is always a reason to kick someone in the head.

posted by bdaddy at 09:35 AM on June 27, 2006

"Maybe his death has a purpose," said Loots sen. "Maybe it will help to clean up the game he lived for."

posted by zippinglou at 09:36 AM on June 27, 2006

I keep typing things and deleting them. That shit like this goes down makes me sick, but I'm comfortably on the other side of the world, and tut-tutting about it doesn't serve anyone. Rugby can be a dangerous and brutal sport at the best of times, but this is obviously bigger than sports -- when apartheid ended in South Africa, it disappeared pretty quickly, and you knew there were going to be some holdovers, people who either resent having their priviiege taken away or were raised in an environment where that was the mindset. But that doesn't make murders like this any easier to take. It's just intellectualizing. And that doesn't take into account the personal acrimony between the teams and the individuals involved, which was obviously also part of the problem and which the second article only hints at. Fuck.

posted by chicobangs at 10:45 AM on June 27, 2006

Chicobangs, I totally agree with you.

posted by Fence at 10:51 AM on June 27, 2006

I am not a rugby fan by any means. The closest I've ever gotten to know a thing about rugby was the day I bought the game for my PlayStation 2 (and that was because they didn't have NHL 2006) Anyways, regardless of who's at fault, the fact of the matter is, a player is dead. Left for dead on the field for which sport he played for. Who cares how it started but focus on how it ended. In soccer, racial discrimination is shown outright in front of the masses yet it's treated as it's part of the game. Here in the US, racism will get you kicked in the teeth and rightfully so, but in European countries and/or overseas, it's not even a factor. The constitution says that we as a people have the freedom of speech but that's for Americans. People in other countries not only deal with racism a totally different way but is "endorsed" by some players. I saw an episode of Real Sports on HBO and this was the very topic. Rugby is no different from soccer where "hooligans" become part of the game - in a bad way. Riaan Loots was kicked in the head after he fell from a blow to the face, intentionally. Put the guy that did this where he belongs....behind bars.

posted by BornIcon at 10:54 AM on June 27, 2006

I played rugby briefly in high school. A tough, brutal sport to be sure. It was not uncommon to be punched, kicked or gouged (gentleman's game?). This reads like a pre-meditated assault- but the facts are hardly available for a genuine analysis, as Chico has said. I know how huge the game is in South Africa and how something like this could potentially have some positive repercussions. Still, kinda angrys up the blood don't it?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:58 AM on June 27, 2006

"Maybe his death has a purpose" Is he out of his fucking mind? What game is worth a mans life? It has to come to this to see you have a problem? The whole world has lost its perspective. Parents fighting at little league baseball and soccer games. Baseball managers imploding for all the world to see. What the fuck. I think its time for people to step back and take a long look at their priorities. This is supposed to be entertainment, not life and death. Are there not bigger problems in the world that could use this kind of display of passion. Just like alot of people,I thought the baseball manager thing was funny. But is this not just taking it a few steps beyond where he left off?

posted by CB900 at 11:11 AM on June 27, 2006

Things are getting completely out of hand at sporting events, and it is not just rugby or soccer. Here in the US there have been numerous fights at little league games, and didn't some guy kill another parent at a hockey practice recently? My 13 year old son plays on a select baseball team, and twice this year I have seen an adult pick up a bat as he went to "have words" with a kid on the other team! What the heck was he going to do with the bat? Intimidate a 13 year old? In both cases someone stopped them before they got to the kid. You add racism to the mix and it gets ugly. I agree with CB, we need to get some perspective!

posted by dviking at 12:14 PM on June 27, 2006

I played rugby for years. I'm not sure that I agree with all of the people describing it as "brutal". It's highly physical, but you don't really expect to be kicked in the head (at least not intentionally). Don't get me wrong... you're going to take a few blows, but this guy obviously stepped way over the line. As for the comments about race and apartheid and the decline of sports and society in general, let's remember that the allegations of racism were from the team that was suspended in a lame attempt to excuse their player's inexcusable behavior. It doesn't necessarily mean that racism was really the cause of this incident. It certainly doesn't mean that It doesn't mean that white ruggers are running around looking for heads of color to kick in. You simply can't draw conclusions about the state of South African rugby based on Bryant Gumbel's take on European soccer leagues.

posted by Adam at 01:26 PM on June 27, 2006

The whole world has lost its perspective. Indeed. When will we hearken back to the days when civility ruled the land, and return to the perspective we seem to have lost? Put me in a time machine and send me back to... wait, I need a date. When did we have that perspective again. Murder is deplorable, and my sympathy goes out Riaan Loots and his family and friends. Racism, despicable. I seethe at the notion of racial hatred, and I hold plenty of contempt particularly for those who are willing to openly express disdain for another race (including, by the way, Loots -- it is a reasonable guess that he was sparking the violence, inexcusable as it was). Knowing little of rugby or its popularity in all parts of the world, I'm just going to take a flier and guess that bazillions of matches are played every year, from pickup to professional. I have never read an article about the extremely civil and sportsmanlike conduct of the players in those games. But I have read one story of serious violence breaking out in one game. So, I guess the whole world has lost perspective? The news, brought to you incessantly by the internets, is dangerous. Hundreds of thousands of airplanes take off and land safely without fanfare, but every now and then there is an accident and it gets sensationalized everywhere. Thousands of people are afraid to fly, even though it is many, many times safer than getting into your car. That is not perspective -- it is a media-driven fear. I bet I could find a tragic event that happened somewhere in this world of a gazillion people every day and post it here. And for every shocking post, 13,000 people will say how shocking and outrageous and deplorable the behavior was. My guess is that bad things happen in a very reasonable proportion. This incident was very bad, but the whole world has not lost its perspective on anything except maybe our perception of the "whole world."

posted by BullpenPro at 01:29 PM on June 27, 2006

Adam wrote: It certainly doesn't mean that white ruggers are running around looking for heads of color to kick in. I agree with your point, but I believe it's a white player who was killed. From the second article: He alleged that as the players took to the field, a Rawsonville player had told a Delicious players: "Luister hier, hotnootjie. Ek gat vir jou donner (Listen, Hotnot. I'm going to beat you up)." Riaan Loots played for Rawsonville. As far as can figure, the manager is trying to make the claim that the Rawsonville player was assaulted because one or more racists on his team were using slurs against the players of colour from Delicious.

posted by Amateur at 01:46 PM on June 27, 2006

Amateur, I couldn't tell from the story what the race was of the player who was killed, but I also got the impression that the Delicious (but seemingly unsavory) chairman was accusing Rawsonville of causing Loots' death by slinging racial slurs (considerably less deadly than a boot to the head). My point was that the source is not necessarily trustworthy, and that his comments shouldn't be taken at face value.

posted by Adam at 02:02 PM on June 27, 2006

Absolutely right. And nice play on words.

posted by Amateur at 02:10 PM on June 27, 2006

I don't think this is murder really. Its manslaughter possibly but I don't think I'd go so far as to call it murder. It was a fight after a game that got out of hand, and yes there was probably racism involved. On both sides. But that doesn't mean one of the players intentionally murdered Loots by kicking him in the head. Maybe he did but you can't know that from a newspaper story. I think its sad and telling that the players are more angry about the suspension than the death of another player. It sounds like bad officiating was as much to blame for the fight as the racial slurs.

posted by fenriq at 02:55 PM on June 27, 2006

Bullpen I wasn't talking about just this one incident. I agree with you that all murders are deplorable. Be it this man in a rugby game or the gang banger that killed four people in my home town the other day. I was speaking to the fact that sports have gone from being part of life to being bigger then life. You asked when it was that we had perspective, I'll tell you. When I was a kid I loved the Packers (still do). The best players in the NFL made a wage that put them at the top of the middle class. Alot of the players had to get jobs during the off season. The players making top wage had played for a few years and worked their way up in pay. Now kids just out of school are handed a signing bonus that most of us could live on for the rest of our lives. Without proving thay can even play pro ball. Again, when I was kid we would go to the local Sears store, buy a uniform and play pick-up games in a vacant lot or in the school yard. Or we would get up a game of baseball after school at the local park. Now days its RYS soccer, POP Warner Football or little league baseball. All being run by well intended but over controlling parents. Yes it does serve to teach the kids how to play the games properly, but at the same time it becomes more about the compation and less about playing a game. I can't tell you how many parents I have seen at youth football games who are convinced their kid has what it takes to play pro-ball. The kid is only nine years old and their trying to decide what to wear to the Hall of Fame dinner.

posted by CB900 at 03:52 PM on June 27, 2006

I coached AYSO soccer for many years. Early on we had an incident with a parent, and every season after that I held a parents meeting before the players meeting. I had few rules for parents: 1. support your kids by being there at games. 2. do not coach from the sideline. if you want to coach, get your own team. 3. any parent outburst or bad behavior on the field or sideline would result in the immediate and permanent suspension of their child from the team. As far as AYSO (and I) were concerned, kids were here to learn the sport, learn to play as a team, play to the best of your ability, and learn good sportsmanship. I had no problems with parents for the rest of the years I coached. Of course, the war paint I wore to those meetings might have had some small influence...

posted by irunfromclones at 06:22 PM on June 27, 2006

His name was Riaan, he went to Strand High and he was dishing out racial abuse to Cape coloureds (which is probably a very un-PC thing to call them these days, but that's what I knew them as - if it is offensive, I apologise) in Afrikaans - I think it's safe to assume he was white. Fighting, while not as much a part of rugby as it is of, say, hockey, does go on and never results in the sort of blanket sendings off that something like soccer would insist upon. Rugby lives on a fine line just shy of outright violence - that it spills over that line every so often isn't surprising, especially at lower levels where ineptitude can cause accidental problems. Add that mix to a country with huge remaining racial tensions and I am surprised that we don't read about this sort of thing happening more often. Here is your oppressor, you may physically challenge him to this limit, but not beyond. It's asking for trouble. I wish I had an answer as I love the country and (some of) the people, but I don't. Tragic and mindbendingly unnecessary. Blame is easy to apportion, but it's important to bear in mind the context. That context doesn't excuse what happened in any way, shape or form, but it might make it slightly easier to understand that such a thing could happen. The world's perspective is fucked - but it always has been, and I'm not sure this is any further indictment of that fact.

posted by JJ at 07:04 PM on June 27, 2006

His name was Riaan, he went to Strand High and he was dishing out racial abuse to Cape coloureds Well, it's not clear to me that Riaan was the one dishing out the abuse. But thanks for the context.

posted by Amateur at 07:56 AM on June 28, 2006

You're quite right - it doesn't say it was him dishing it out - I must have made that up. I should stop posting at 1 in the morning - it never goes well.

posted by JJ at 08:51 AM on June 28, 2006

CB: I won't argue that sports have grown as a presence in our lives at a very fast rate (the perspective of an American east coaster -- observations around the globe may vary). But in my opinion, sports have redirected our inclination to stupidity, not enhanced it. I have my doubts that for many "kids just out of school," handing them a big bonus right away ruins their lives more than not handing it to them. Sports are taking kids who might otherwise be privately inclined to drug and alcohol abuse, rape, spousal abuse, tax evasion and other crimes violent and otherwise, and making them do it under the public spotlight. Yes, that means we hear about it more. It also means (in most, though certainly not all cases) that higher consequences are paid -- you give a kid more, they have more to lose. Regarding overbearing parenting, same thing. I haven't been alive forever, but I suspect that the notion of controlling parents is not a new and novel concept. Where maybe the goal used to be physics or the violin, now it's sports. If anything, sports have forced these parents out of their private parlors and conservatories into the more public eye of the Pop Warner and Little League fields. I have my doubts that you can show me that the collective behavior of people is substantially worse, proportionally, than it used to be in the good old days. The bad behavior is just better publicized. Well, it's not clear to me that Riaan was the one dishing out the abuse. It's never good to make assumptions in these cases, and I made a few in my earlier post. I retract them, especially my accusation of Riaan. That said, though, it is worth considering that not one but two players ganged up on Riaan, and no violence seems to have been inflicted on anybody else. Circumstancial to be sure, but evidence nonetheless.

posted by BullpenPro at 12:02 PM on June 28, 2006

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