16 Jun 2010

1981 Springbok captain recalls impact of pitch invasion

9:29 am on 16 June 2010

The captain of the 1981 Springboks has revealed that team members feared for their safety when anti-apartheid protesters invaded the pitch at a game in Hamilton.

Waatea News reports that in an interview on the Maori Television programme Native Affairs, Wynand Claassen told presenter Julian Wilcox that the team was surprised at how strongly New Zealanders felt about the issue.

He says it all came home to them that afternoon.

Mr Claassen says more than half the squad want to come back next year, the 30th anniversary, to apologise for the divisions and violence the 1981 tour created.

He says he hopes the trip - which would coincide with the 2011 World Cup - will help mend relations that were strained at the time.

He describes the trip as a bridge-building tour to tell New Zealanders that the players had nothing to do with the controversy.

Anti-apartheid activist John Minto says that, while an informal visit could be of benefit to both countries, any formally sanctioned commemorative match between the Springboks and the All Blacks would be inappropriate.