Saru unveils racial goals

2015-03-01 15:00

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Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer could fall foul of the well-intentioned new strategic transformation plan at the SA Rugby Union (Saru), which was rolled out last week.

Although Saru CEO Jurie Roux was at pains to emphasise that there were no quotas for the selection of teams, the plan does stipulate a desired number of black players in the Springbok set-up.

Saru administrators from the parent body and the provinces have committed to the strategic transformation plan, which has six key performance areas.

Under the demographic representation section, it states that seven players in a Springbok squad of 23 (30%) should be black.

The goal is “to increase black participation in the Springbok team to 50% by 2019”.

A key activity for this year is “to engage [the] national coach to increase black player representation to 30% (seven players in a squad of 23).

“From the seven generic black players, two must be black Africans,” it states.

In each of the last five squads selected by Meyer last year [for tests against New Zealand, Ireland, England, Italy and Wales], there were six black players.

Although Roux noted that the numbers were targets and not quotas, Meyer could be put under pressure if the target of 30% is extended to the rugby World Cup squad of 31.

The plan, which was passed by the full executive in December, showed that all are lagging behind Saru’s targets – with the single exception of the Stormers in SA Super Rugby.

Roux conceded that Saru had not done enough, since unification in 1992, to achieve complete transformation.

He said this plan, which follows a number of similar programmes, was aimed at changing “rugby from grass roots to the very top level in every sphere of our activities – administrators, coaches and players”.

He said the difference between this year’s plan and previous undertakings was that “it’s timelined and it’s measurable”.

He said the 14 unions would be regularly audited to see that they were keeping up with the aims of the transformation plan.

“We realised that if we leave it [transformation], don’t drive it as a specific project and if we don’t put people and money behind it, the graph [showing black participation] would have been going down all the time,” added Roux.

A key focus will be the fact that a large number of Springboks come from just a few schools.

“We can’t change or interfere with schools. What we can do is identify those black schools that should be on par through their player corps and their talent and help them to get to that level,” he said.

Roux conceded that the Springboks were a glaring issue.

“Unfortunately, we only get judged by whether the Springboks win or lose and the number of black players we have on the pitch.

“We need to push the numbers in the Currie Cup and Super Rugby because Heyneke [Meyer] can’t select players if they’re not playing in those competitions.”

Roux added that the transformation plan had been approved by the minister of sport and the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee.


Numbers game

.?64% of primary school players are black.

.?65% of high school players are black.

.?80% of club players are black. It is at professional level that the numbers change.

.?Only one in 35 schools, in provinces like Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West, play rugby.

.?In 2014, the eminent persons group on sport transformation in South Africa audited transformation efforts in soccer, rugby, cricket, athletics and netball – rugby came at the top of the table with 71%

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