Protesters against a rugby match scheduled Saturday between the Springboks, the South African national team, and a team of midwestern all-star players said today that they have achieved their purpose by forcing the game's organizers to hold it in secret.
"They've been defeated. When you have to hold a game in secret, it's not a game. It's a practice," said Conrad Worrill, a spokesman for Chicago's Black United Front, one of several groups opposing the Springboks tour.
"We're going to have a victory party Saturday morning. Then if we find out where they are playing, we'll go there and stop them," he said.
Organizers have refused to divulge the game's time or location because of threats of disruption. Edmund Lee, one of the coordinators, said all media requests for transportation to the site of the match have been rejected.
Lee denied reports in today's Chicago Sun-Times that the South Africans are considering canceling Saturday's match and two others planned next week in New York state and returning home early.
Meanwhile in Albany, N.Y., a U.S. District Court hearing was scheduled Monday on a request by the Eastern Rugby Union for an injunction to allow a game scheduled for Tuesday to proceed. New York Gov. Hugh Carey issued an order directing cancellation of a Springboks match in a stadium owned by the city of Albany.
Richard Walsh Jr., the rugby union's attorney, said Carey's order "sounded more like a press release than an executive order." Ordering the game canceled, Walsh said, amounts to an "abridgement of my clients' First Amendment rights."
In ordering the game canceled, Carey said state police sources had told him that as many as 10,000 demonstrators might converge on Albany to protest the match and that the match represented a threat to public safety.
Tom Selfridge, president of the Eastern Rugby Union, said he would be willing to limit attendance at the match to 40 or 50 people in an effort to maintain order. A third Springboks game is scheduled Sept. 26 in an undisclosed location.
Since their arrival in the United States Monday, following a protest-scarred, two-month tour of New Zealand, the Springboks have been almost constant targets of demonstrators protesting the South African government's policy of racial apartheid.
Team members spent most of today in seclusion in their quarters at a Chicago athletic club while small groups of demonstrators occasionally picketed and chanted, "Down with the Springboks," and "Stop the Racist Rugby Tour."
The scheduled rugby tour has brought threats from Black African nations to boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
"The decision on the tour . . . will be taken by the African states and members of the nonaligned movement as a hostile act against the aspirations of the people of Africa and of the Third World in general," said Theo-Ben Gurirab, U.N. spokesman for the South-West Africa People's Organization.
At next week's meeting of the Olympic congress in West Germany, the Soviet Union reportedly plans to ask for removal of the Games from Los Angeles if the Springboks tour proceeds.