Cape Town - The SARU SACOS Legends have hit out at Steve Hansen after the All Black coach questioned transformation in South African rugby.
According to the New Zealand Herald website, the SARU SACOS Legends penned an open letter to Hansen regarding comments he made during an interview with rugby journalist Peter Bills for his recently published book, The Jersey: The Secrets Behind the World’s Most Successful Team.
The SARU SACOS Legends, who were a non-racial governing body during apartheid, strongly hit out against Hansen’s statements, saying it "reeks of a complete ignorance".
They also incorrectly call it Hansen's book.
"We are obviously irritated and feel a sense of ire at those who make such simplistic pronouncements and construe these to be indicative of a hackneyed view which shows complete disdain for the hurt and pain experienced by those from the former non-racial SARU SACOS rugby stable," the SARU SACOS Legends wrote.
"While we do not wish to take anything away from your celebrated successes and greatly admired astuteness as a rugby coach, we do offer a word of caution... where rugby men start to venture on terrain such as pronouncing reasons for other countries' poor performance on a sports field."
Hansen was commenting in 2017 when he was probed about the demise of the New Zealand’s Rugby Championship rivals, South Africa and Australia.
“They are the only team in sport I know that doesn’t pick its best team,” Hansen is quoted as saying of the Springboks in the book.
The Springboks have a mandate of picking a team made up of 50% players of colour for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Hansen added: “I understand what they are trying to do but... Nelson Mandela understood it better than anyone else. He knew that the Springboks was a team that could unite the nation. I still believe it is. If they got things right and allowed it to develop naturally, it would. And you would get the right people in the team. In the end, it would be a multi-cultural team.”
Hansen said that for a coach to not be allowed to pick his best team “goes against the principles of sport”.
“Rugby wasn’t a black man’s sport, but it was the sport that would unify the country in a way that no other sport or business could. Now I think that unity isn’t there so much. As a nation, it has got such a lively history and it has created a whole lot of things we will never understand, because we were never part of it.
“There is a lot of ill-feeling. But the thing they don’t want to fall into is actually reversing that. That is a pretty political statement but when you look at the rugby, one of my great mates, Heyneke Meyer, found out that having to select a team based on what colour a man’s skin is, goes against all the principles and spirit of sport. What it does is create a situation where 1) you are not picking the best team and 2) the guys that get picked are thinking, 'Am I here because of the reasons of quota or because I am good enough?'"