Cosatu: End rugby's 'boere clique'

Cape Town - Trade union federation Cosatu says it wholeheartedly supports the SA Rugby Union's plans to ensure that half the Springbok team is made up of players of colour by 2019.

SARU on Monday confirmed its Transformation Strategic Plan, which aims to bring all of South Africa's representative rugby teams, along with domestic teams in line with national targets in five years.

SARU wants to make sure that by 2019 at least half the Springbok side consists of players of colour, with 60% of those required to be black African.

Cosatu on Monday released a statement on its website saying it supports SARU's new plan, hinting that a so-called 'boere clique' and 'boere mafia' still controls rugby in South Africa.

"Cosatu had been approached by a number of rugby players, both black and white, who are concerned about how a conservative old boere clique controls SA Rugby. Cosatu supports the call for quotas in rugby to ensure that the establishment within rugby don’t continue to frustrate a more representative rugby team. Clearly there are many incredibly talented and skilled black players who don’t get selected or only warm the bench. The coach (Heyneke Meyer) has brought back a lot of old retired players and has an outdated game plan that has not been able to keep track with All Blacks rugby," the statement read.

Cosatu also hit out at DSTV, which broadcasts rugby programmes via its sports channel, SuperSport.

"DSTV are also complicit in promoting the old boys club in SA Rugby and continues to put up commentators who talk up the old status quo. Cosatu supports (former Springbok wing) Ashwin Willemse for keeping SA Rugby honest by raising the difficult questions that must be considered if we are to have a more representative team and better brand of rugby. Cosatu will fight any attempts to victimise Willemse for raising these tough questions on the DSTV programme.

"Cosatu calls for the transformation plan to be discussed publicly and for inputs at all levels to be included in the discussions towards the final policy. Cosatu also calls on the sponsors, such as SA Breweries and Absa to take a stand on the matters of transformation, failing which we will call on Government to review the tax breaks they receive for their sponsorship as well as plan protest action against them."

The trade union also used 100-Test capped Springbok wing Bryan Habana as an example of how the quota system could work.

"Cosatu will remind Habana that without political pressure, he would not have made the team and would not have been able to display his amazing talent. The white establishment need black faces to give legitimacy to their manipulation of the team and those blacks must not deny that they initially got into the teams because of political pressure on the boere mafia of rugby."

SARU, meanwhile, also set a mandate for the Springbok coach to select at least five black players in his squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England as well as include seven players of colour in his match-day squad in the lead-up to the tournament.

All 14 of South Africa's provincial unions approved the new strategic plan on August 13 this year and SARU has already shared the plan with SASCOC and the sports ministry.

The next step is for SARU's general council to approve the plan.
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