TRANSFORMATION IN RUGBY: THE TRICK WE MISSED!
Let me start my article by saying, I stand 110% behind transformation in rugby. I know for some it is a bitter pill to swallow, but transformation in rugby is needed. This is about the point where some people stop reading my article and start commenting, I would humbly request that you read further. This is merely my ideas and you are free to have your own ideas to the contrary.
Our rugby public usually complain about transformation when the Bok squad is announced and there are two or three players of colour in the said squad. In our unity as a nation, we then have two different arguments, to wit:
· We need to the best players for the team; merely picking players because of their skin colour is unhealthy for the sport and unfair to more deserving players. Fair argument.
· The other argument is that our sports need to be reflecting our nation. What happened to all the good players of colour coming through the ranks? Why is it that there is only two or three players of colour in the squad? Another fair argument.
Notwithstanding the aforementioned arguments; I think some of us are missing the point here. It is even more disturbing to note that SARU and government is part of those missing the point.
So my idea of how we should transform our rugby:
Let me start by saying; we can have 15 black players (good ones) on the field and our rugby would still not be transformed. To me; the trick we missed is that we measure transformation on the number of black players in the team. That is NOT how we transform the team. The black players in the team at the moment are just like all the white ones in any event (I know that might sound racist, but let me explain). Where did these black players, the Habanas etc come from? Their upbringing was the same as their white counterparts. So how is that transforming our rugby???
Reading the above paragraph, you might be tempted to infer that I am advocating more poor black players in the squad. If you do, your inference is WRONG.
What I am saying is, transformation start at our schools. Why is it that you have to go to school at Paarl Gim or one of those type of schools (and this includes all races) to seen by selectors for the WP craven week team? How many Outeniqua boys are in the SWD team? This is where we missed the trick. SARU and government should have made certain structures available for poorer schools to be able to compete with Paarl Gim, Waterkloof, et al. Why has that not been done? It is because we so caught up in petty race issues that we are blinded by the facts. So what do we do; we argue ad nauseum, about the two or three black players in the Springbok team.
We have a rugby crazy nation, but sadly we can look a boy from poorer school in the eyes and say: as long as you in this school, you will never become a Bok. Save for Kabamba Floors (Môrester in Oudtshoorn), I challenge you to name more players from these type of schools that is actually making it? If SARU could just get SARU and government to forget about the Springbok management and develop rugby crazy schools (those with a lack of resources), we will start transformation. This should have been done in 1994 already, but we are looking at the easy route which unfortunately leaves certain people behind.
That is the trick I feel we are missing. There is a lot of young boys who could be of a great service to our country, but unless they can come to the same level as boys from these top schools, they will never make it. I’m not implying SWD should start picking kids from Môrester in the expense of more deserving boys from Outeniqua, but rather that SARU should be tasked to level the playing field and help in the uplifting of the aforementioned schools, so that that kids would at least have a fair chance of proving themselves.
In conclusion I want to say, SARU and government with their jaded stance on transformation are killing the dreams thousands of young South Africans, in the expense of 10 or so black players in the Springbok squad. This dream was nicely summed up by Johny Wilkinson, when he said: “I never ever believed that I would be able to give up on this dream which has driven me to live, breathe, love and embrace the game of rugby from the earliest days that I can remember.”
Unfortunately in South Africa this passion is being killed in so many ways…