West Coast racism row: Teams face off in club final

By Viv Logie -
The incident, at Whataroa on April 30, has sparked an ongoing war of words between club officials and supporters of both clubs. Photo / Getty Images
The incident, at Whataroa on April 30, has sparked an ongoing war of words between club officials and supporters of both clubs. Photo / Getty Images

Fate will see two rugby adversaries already at loggerheads with each other over alleged on-field racism, square off in the West Coast senior final this weekend.

Following their shock semifinal win against Blaketown at the weekend, South Westland area now pitched against Kiwi - the team they have defaulted to on two previous occasions because of alleged racial abuse from members of the Hokitika club towards Pacific Island players in the southern team the last time they met.

That incident, at Whataroa on April 30, has sparked an ongoing war of words between club officials and supporters of both clubs, an official protest to the West Coast Rugby Union, and two boycotts.

However, despite the 12-week standoff between the two, South Westland team manager Robert McKenzie confirmed this morning they would be contesting the final: "We would be silly not to."

He would not be drawn into debate about the racism issue, which has dogged the two teams since April.

"Our game against Blaketown on Saturday was a beauty. Even the referee, from Canterbury, commented saying it was the best game he had refereed all season and the standard was up there with Christchurch teams," Mr McKenzie said.

On July 9, South Westland refused to play Kiwi for a second time since the alleged incident, and said at the time it was their way of making a stand against the rugby union for its failure to adequately deal with the alleged racism.

While the complainants say it has been glossed over, the rugby union says it has spoken with all senior team players and has had a presence at recent games so it could monitor the situation.

- Greymouth Star

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