South African Rugby
Watson pulls out of Springbok tour
October 25, 2008
Luke Watson has ruled himself out of contention for the Springboks' end-of-season tour © Getty Images
Controversial South Africa flanker Luke Watson has declared himself unavailable for the Springboks up-coming northern hemisphere tour.
Watson, currently under investigation by the South Africa Rugby Union (SARU) following alleged derogatory comments about the running of rugby in South Africa, has voluntarily taken a step back from the international scene.
"After serious consideration and prayer, I have decided to withdraw my availability for the national rugby side for the end of year overseas rugby tour," Watson said in a statement.
"It is very clear to me that a hidden hand is at work crafting spurious allegations and half truths as to what I was purported to have said," Watson said. "The very same group of instigators has conducted a trial by media, without affording me an opportunity for stating my case at the appropriate time and in the proper forum, given this trial by media to do so at this stage serves no purpose.
"I am withdrawing due to the ongoing controversy that has been deliberately created as a result of my stance on matters of transformation.
"Should I have been selected for the national rugby team; my mere presence would have sustained this destructive pattern.
"I wish to assure the rugby supporting public that I remain committed and dedicated to South African rugby and to this wonderful democracy of ours, however, I will never sacrifice the ideals and beliefs regarding transformation in rugby that the majority of South Africans hold dear to their hearts."
Watson's international career has been dogged by controversy since his first cap under Jake White was green lit by SARU chief Oregan Hoskins. Watson's father, Cheeky Watson, was a key anti-apartheid voice in the 1970s while playing in mixed-race rugby competitions.
South Africa coach Peter De Villiers is set to announce his squad for the tour following Saturday's Currie Cup final between the Sharks and Blue Bulls.