Rugby to tackle gender-based violence when Bulls and Sharks clash

Published Nov 30, 2023


Durban — When the Vodacom Bulls and Hollywoodbets Sharks lock horns in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship Derby at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, December 2, tackling gender-based violence will be on their minds.

The two rugby teams have come together in support of creating awareness and raising funds for victims of GBV when they meet.

This time, their clash will be more than just one of the biggest Derbies, they will tackle one of South Africa’s greatest social issues during the 16 Days of Activism of No Violence against Women and Children, which ends on December 10.

Join the Hollywoodbets Sharks in #TacklingGBV with passion and purpose. Picture: The Sharks/Facebook.

According to the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, there will be a financial pledge opportunity for every tackle made during this epic match, starting from as low as R10 per tackle up to a R20 000 donation by either fans or corporate sponsors. The funds raised will go directly to Kerr House and Sahara Shelter, two Durban-based NPOs which support women and children who have suffered abuse.

It is an initiative that immediately had the buy-in of both the Bulls and Sharks players as well as Vodacom and SuperSport, and some of the game’s stars are also backing rugby’s response to gender-based violence.

Former Springbok and Sharks player, Stefan Terblanche said: “I think sport has shown so many times in our country how it can bring people together and solve a number of issues. To have the Bulls and the Sharks – two massive rugby franchises recognised around the world – coming together like this is amazing.

“The way some women are treated in this country is absolutely unacceptable, and rugby is now going to shine that spotlight on what is a pandemic in our country. Trust me, if you want to see tough guys, look no further than rugby players. And also look at how they respect women. They have no time for men who are guilty of gender-based violence. Hopefully, this massive Derby can not only elevate the awareness of gender-based violence but also help to bring an abrupt end to it.”

Former Sharks star Ryan Kankowski was equally forthright.

“Our rugby players always find great causes to stand behind and I’m very happy that the Sharks and the Bulls have chosen this one for their Derby. South Africa has a massive problem with gender-based violence. Whatever we can do as rugby to shine a light on that is good. I think a lot of rugby players would love to get their hands on anybody who is abusing women in this country. It’s unacceptable, and it’s time to get rid of this in our country.”

Former Bulls player Rosko Specman believes rugby players have a perfect opportunity to help reinforce what true manhood is.

“If people can see that rugby players and fans are getting behind this and talking out against it, then it can hopefully help to change the situation. It’s wrong. Any man who lifts his hand to a woman, I’d like to ask him to try that with a rugby player. And if as a man you’re not speaking out against this, then you’re allowing it to happen. This is something big that we need to address. If we stand together as men and tackle this, we can get rid of it in our communities. I’d love to see more professional sportsmen getting behind this.”

Former Springbok player Robbie Kempson said he hopes other sports follow rugby’s lead.

“This is a scourge in our society and I think what the Bulls and Sharks are doing is hopefully the start of something that can grow. We just keep seeing the stats on gender-based violence going up, so to have two big franchises getting behind this cause is fantastic. I’d love to see all the major sporting codes getting involved to finally stop this.”

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