Mind games: Time for the sport of rugby to adapt or die

2015-03-01 15:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A startling item went by almost unnoticed in the SA Rugby Union (Saru) presentation of the latest strategic transformation plan – the fact that half-a-billion rand has been spent on development.

This is what has been spent since unification (of the old, racially divided SA Rugby Board and Saru bodies) in 1992. It was revealed by Saru CEO Jurie Roux when he set out the newest plan to remove the stigma of race bias that clings to rugby.

As all the unions have also spent vast sums of money on what used to be called “development”, but is now “transformation”, it is an indictment on past and present rugby officials.

Given how little has been achieved in the quest to make rugby truly representative, there can be no conclusion other than that a large part of these funds have been wasted – despite Saru’s protestations to the contrary.

Rugby’s lasting reputation as the beloved game of the Afrikaner, with the inevitable ties to our former National Party rulers that this brought, meant the game has always been targeted as harbouring racist traits.

Because of this, the game was held in contempt by many black South Africans and its path post-1994 was always going to be harder and trickier than other sports. To this day, when the parliamentary portfolio committee feels the urge to meddle, it is rugby that is on the carpet.

There have been some achievements. As Roux pointed out: “Saru has had a black president for 17 years; our executive council is 75% black; we’ve had a black Springbok coach; the leading Springbok try scorer of all time is black [Bryan Habana]”.

This speaks of insincerity and prejudice from many officials of the old order. It also can’t be denied that black players have been let down by their kin who were appointed to influential positions, but failed to exercise the necessary managerial influence.

Development officers who were appointed were unskilled and in need of training. Too often, players were pushed into the Springbok side too soon resulting in incapacitating injuries, which prevented them from reaching their full potential.

The strategic transformation plan is the product of thorough research and careful collaboration and Saru president Oregan Hoskins has gone as far as to look at it as his life’s work as a rugby administrator.

It seems an honest effort to get transformation right and – unlike all previous missions – it contains a mechanism to continually check progress to ensure that none of the union’s affiliates stray.

The game is under pressure from government, crowds are dwindling, it is no longer the sporting bastion at schools, figures show the majority of new players will be black and the demographic of crowds is changing – so rugby has to adapt or die.

This time Saru has to make it work. It has no choice.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.