Former Springboks captain-turned commentator Bobby Skinstad has apologised for using the term "coconut tackle" when describing a hit by Chiefs wing Lelia Masaga which left both him and his Sharks opponent Lwazi Mvovo concussed.
Skinstad, commentating on the South African television broadcast, made the reference in the second half of the match won 18-12 by the Chiefs in Durban this morning after Masaga chased a high kick and clashed heads with Mvovo when attempting a tackle. Both players looked dazed and took time to recover from the impact but walked from the field.
While Masaga appeared to have simply mistimed the tackle, Skinstad was in no doubt who was at fault.
"Lelia Masaga has gone head high in an absolute coconut tackle straight on to Lwazi Mvovo and tried to take his head off," Skinstad said.
Chiefs loose forward Scott Waldrom, who was not required to travel with the team on their three-match tour of Perth, Bloemfontein and Durban, tweeted: "Does the SA commentator know that the term "coconut tackle" is actually a derogatory term??"
Skinstad, 35, replied: "No, it was me and have never heard or seen it like that, apologies, thought it meant head high or 'nut'. Ok?"
The former South African loose forward added: "Never seen it like that, heard the term and thought it meant aiming for the 'nut' - no harm meant, sorry."
Masaga is Wellington-born with a Samoan heritage.
Other rugby players, including All Black Jerome Kaino, referred to the comment on Twitter but laughed it off.
Probably of more concern to the players at Kings Park will be the way the match officials let play continue despite the incident happening near a sideline and in front of an assistant referee. Masaga and Mvovo lay prone with the ball between them yet play continued despite their teammates showing concern and medics rushing on to the field.
Skinstad's comment brought back memories of a similar call from South African rugby commentator Andy Capastagno, who in 1997 referred to a Brian Lima hit which left Joost van der Westhuizen injured as a "coconut tackle". Capastagno later apologised on New Zealand TV, saying the word "coconut" had no racial connotations in his country.
- APNZBy Patrick McKendry Email Patrick