Statement on accelerating Rugby Transformation

Statement on accelerating Rugby Transformation

8 November 2015

ANC in the Western Cape is firm in its view that transformation in our national rugby team has been shockingly and frustratingly slow. This frustration has been further exacerbated by a Rugby Union that has not put transformation at the top of their agenda. Year after year the South African Rugby Union has been presenting paper after paper, with new targets for transformation, only for those targets not to be met and the goal posts to be moved further away.

The same targets today, of a team with 50% black players by 2019 are exactly the same targets that the Union presented previously, years later, we have not moved an inch in what we seek to achieve; creating a more inclusive and more representative National Rugby team and Rugby Union. There is no excuse for SARU to have missed these targets at RWC2015 as we have more than enough players who were overlooked by SARU and a coach with no appetite for transformation.

In a Presentation made by SARU last year in front of the Parliamentary Sports Committee, the Chairperson of the Committee could not help but notice the paradox of a Rugby Union executive coming to Parliament to present a Transformation Agenda, which was made up of mostly white males and a single woman. Who would believe an untransformed Union presenting a strategy of transforming the Team? A total overhaul is required since SARU sets the tone. The current leadership has time and again proven that decisions are made without values required to sustain true development of performance and transformation, our country`s rugby so desperately needs.

We call on the Minister of Sport to hold SARU accountable immediately to explain to the public why black players such as Lionel Mapoe, Elton Jantjies, Scarra Ntubeni and Teboho Mohojo who deserved to be chosen on merit were excluded and those that went to RWC2015 such as Kolisi, Paige, Kirchner, and Mvovo carried tackle bags most of the tournament. The Ministry has the power to shape policy and to ensure compliance with targets now not five years later as there are sufficient capable black players who deserve to be selected on merit and have the necessary skills to adapt to the modern game. However according to the current coach these players do not "have the skills" to play his one dimensional style of rugby which is in contrast to all other nations who have embraced this focus on skills with tremendous success.

Heyneke Meyer, certainly takes his cue from an untransformed Union. It is convenient and disingenuous for the Heyneke apologists to play the race card. How ironic it is this bigot now suddenly has some black friends, is an ANC supporter and blame the players for lacking in skills. This is all designed to mask the gutless, shockingly poor, inept, one-dimensional and cowardice performances he is desperately trying to shove down our throats for another four years. Then SARU have the audacity to even consider to reward such mediocrity with a contract extension.

Transformation is not just an Idea that is only good for a perpetual conversation with no particular end in mind. Transformation will inconvenience some; transformation will leave others outside, to give a chance to those who have been standing outside looking in for too long. SARU must accept that some of its current directors stand to lose if transformation must become a reality, they must accept that some white players will not get a chance to play, and some white management will be left outside.

21 years later, the deeper question is, are we dealing with our political past, honestly, frankly and without equivocation, so that the purposes for which we resolved to build a new country that works, not for some but for all is achieved.

Are we moving as rapidly and as consistently as possible to transform South Africa into an equal society whose access to opportunity is no longer largely racial? The ANC refuses to lose its sense of urgency to transform this country because of unyielding forces that are well served by the status quo.

Heyneke Meyer is ignoring the long list of black players who are exceptional in the Super Rugby teams. He instead built the Springbok team on the self-preservation of certain players.The South African public are tired of the excuses being made by SARU and Heyneke Meyer for their failure to transform rugby. By putting blame on the "lack of skills" of his chosen players he is abdicating his responsibility as a head coach and in effect insulted the many dedicated school, club and provincial coaches.

Meyer through his selections pursues old players past their best; he stuck to players who have been injured for a long time; players out of form; and also did not give the necessary opportunities to black players.

In addition to finding a new coach SARU also has to appoint the entire coaching and management team of the Springboks since the current team are inexperienced with absolute no international experience which Meyer insisted to appoint with disastrous results.

It cannot be that this country cannot find a Coach who can deliver both on Winning and Transformation.

ANC calls on SARU to account to the South African public through the Minister of Sport and to act decisively by presenting South Africa with a coach who embraces transformation and has the necessary skills and a team that is representative of all South Africans for the 2016 rugby season.

Marius Fransman
Provincial Chairperson