Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
10 Sep 2015
12:41 pm

SA rugby ‘has transformed’

Wesley Botton

The SA Rugby Union (Saru) has defended its transformation record in the wake of widespread criticism over selection of black Springboks, ahead of the team’s departure for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Saru president Oregan Hoskins yesterday released an “open letter” claiming South African rugby has been “massively transformed” since 1992. “The good story we have been telling has been falling on deaf ears,” Hoskins wrote.

Hoskins said Saru had become the first sport body in SA to hold a national transformation indaba, in November 2012. He said the federation had, among other projects, opened 32 mobile gyms for black schools and clubs. SA rugby faced difficulties, however, in reaching transformation targets as only 10% of children played rugby in primary school.

Amid growing hostility towards Springbok team selections, trade union federation Cosatu claimed last month head coach Heyneke Meyer was favouring white players, while an organisation calling itself Supporters Against Racist Rugby Associations burned a Bok jersey at its launch. Political party Agency for New Agenda (ANA) took Saru to court in an attempt to prevent the squad from leaving for the World Cup in England. ANA later withdrew its court action.

Meyer named nine players of colour in a squad of 31 for the global showpiece, which starts next week, but Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula came out in support of Saru and the management team. Mbalula insisted Saru was “on course” to reach its target of 50% black players in the Bok squad by 2019.

“We call on South Africans to support our national team (at the World Cup),” Mbalula said. ANA’s leader Tshidiso Mokhoanatse expressed disgust at Hoskins’ letter, saying: “I am shocked a person who is the president (of Saru) can be so arrogant and think we are fools. The present statistics have nothing to do with the representation of demographics in the past 21 years.”

Mokhoanatse added that the courts will be “waiting for the Boks” when they return. Cosatu’s Tony Ehrenreich said Saru’s attempt to “vindicate itself through its president” was sad. “The million rand spindoctors have now only been able to craft a response to the widespread criticism of the resource allocation and control of rugby.”

– news@ citizen.co.za