Mind Games: Hoskins will carry the ball again for SA rugby

2014-03-17 10:00

History is littered with examples of how a change of mind yielded great success, and rugby officials are hoping this will be the case with Oregan Hoskins.

Next Friday, Hoskins will enter his third term unopposed as president of the SA Rugby Union (Saru).

The man who once said the Saru president should never stay in office for more than two four-year terms says he has “unfinished business” and rugby’s constituency clearly agrees with him.

Persistent “off-the-record” grumblings about South Africa’s rugby administration and Hoskins’ leadership have turned out to be exactly that.

So Hoskins and his deputy, career committee man Mark Alexander, will remain at the head of a sport that can arguably claim to be South Africa’s best-run sporting code.

There were rumours Hoskins would be challenged but in the end, it seems rugby officials have decided on a course of “better the devil you know”.

Although often criticised for his quiet and nonconfrontational style, Hoskins has undeniably brought stability to rugby since taking over from the controversial Brian van Rooyen in 2006.

The KwaZulu-Natal lawyer has recently completed an MBA – his thesis was on transformation in rugby.

In 2011, he was elected vice-chairperson of the International Rugby Board (IRB).

It is this that must have weighed heavily with the provinces when they debated whether it was time for South Africa?–?like many other major rugby-playing nations?– to have a former international player as its head.

If Hoskins was voted out as Saru president, South Africa would lose its seat at the IRB?–?a situation that would clearly be undesirable given Saru’s stated intention to bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Hoskins has said his best achievement has been to “take rugby off the front pages” and that cannot be denied.

Whereas once rugby was constantly challenged before the parliamentary subcommittee on sport, the game is now largely left in peace.

Hoskins also has a good working relationship with Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and his department.

Although still dissatisfied with the rate of transformation, Hoskins has often exerted pressure on unions to keep the issue on the agenda.

Another significant achievement was to bring Saru on to a more business-like footing with the appointment of a CEO.

Hoskins was in charge when the Springboks won their second World Cup in 2007.

He has exhorted coach Heyneke Meyer and the present team to bring home a third next year to provide impetus and weight to Saru’s submission that having staged such a successful tournament in 1995, it is time the World Cup was again staged in South Africa.

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