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Maori-Springbok match in jeopardy

A PROPOSED match between the Springboks and New Zealand Maori in the South African township of Soweto is likely to founder because of racism laws.

The national rugby unions have been working to organize the June match which would have acted as a warmup for South Africa's Springboks ahead of a series against the British and Irish Lions.

The match would also have provided competition for the New Zealand Maori team which has no international program this year because of New Zealand Rugby Union budget cuts.

The sticking point was a ruling of the South African government's President's Council prohibiting the Springboks from playing against racially selected teams.

The Maori team, comprising players of indigenous heritage and which has been used as New Zealand's international second-string or 'A' team at times in recent seasons, would technically fall into that category.

South African Rugby Union strategic communications manager Andy Colquhoun said the council's resolution was a "fundamental stumbling block" to the match taking place.

"There are several obstacles to overcome should we wish to pursue the offer," Colquhoun said in a statement released in New Zealand. "They include the financial viability of the project, logistics around venues and player availability and the fundamental stumbling block of a long-established President's Council resolution forbidding the appearance of SARU teams against opponents selected along racial lines.


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