27 Mar 2009

South Africa changes laws on Maori team playing there

9:49 am on 27 March 2009

South Africa has changed its rules to resurrect the chance to host the New Zealand Maori rugby team.

The original proposed match in June in Soweto was blocked by racism laws with a government ruling preventing the Springboks from playing racially selected teams.

But the president's council of the South African Rugby Union has instructed its staff to try and organise a match between a South African 15 and the Maori as a warmup for the Springboks' series against the British and Irish Lions.

The council accepted a recommendation from the management committee that SARU can accept matches against any team sanctioned by the national governing body of that team.

SARU acting managing director Andy Marinos was asked to find a way to fund the cost of hosting the Maori for a match without a date or venue yet.

SARU and the New Zealand Rugby Union had been working together on the original proposal until they stumbled on the racial law last month.

The Maori beat the British and Irish Lions in 2005, beat Canada 59-23 in 2007, and last year beat Japan, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Australia A to win the Pacific Nations Cup.

The Maori were once prevented by South Africa's apartheid laws from joining All Blacks tours to the republic.

They last toured South Africa in 1994 without meeting the Springboks.