Cape Town - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has taken a swipe at Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus, suggesting that he is giving preferential treatment to white players.
The Boks are currently in New Zealand where they are preparing for Saturday's Rugby Championship encounter against the All Blacks in Wellington.
Erasmus is under pressure after back-to-back losses against Argentina (32-19, Mendoza) and Australia (23-18, Brisbane) and Cosatu has upped the pressure from a political standpoint.
Via a press statement released on Thursday, Cosatu said it was "speaking on behalf of many rugby players in South Africa who are enraged by the choices made by Rassie" for Saturday's Test.
The statement continues: “Rassie has been treating the black Springbok players as second class this entire year. His starting line-up for Saturday is a reversal to white preference players, which exposes his attitude towards black players."
Erasmus' 23-man squad for the Test at the Westpac Stadium is the 'whitest' he's selected in what will be his eighth match at the helm.
The squad features eight players of colour - or 35%.
Players of colour in the starting team are Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Aphiwe Dyantyi and captain Siya Kolisi.
On the bench the players of colour are Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira, Elton Jantjies and Cheslin Kolbe.
Cosatu was also upset at Erasmus’ decision to substitute hooker Mbonambi after 35 minutes in last weekend’s Test against Australia.
“The white players are given special places in the Springbok team ahead of the form black players. Francois Louw has been playing poorly, Handre Pollard has been playing poorly, and Willie le Roux has been playing poorly. Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk has been playing poorly, yet they are not substituted when there are talented form players on the bench. Mbonambi is substituted on 35 minutes which is entirely irrational and designed to undermine him. Many black players when they do get a chance on the field are played out of their positions, to deny them the prospect to bring their best skills.”
Cosatu added that Erasmus was struggling juggling two jobs of SA Rugby’s director of rugby and that of Springbok head coach.
“Rassie clearly cannot do both the jobs but wants to keep the director of rugby position in case he fails as the coach. He has been erratic in his choices and his game plan, refusing to take responsibility for not giving players and combinations a decent chance to build partnerships. Cosatu is raising this concern with SARU before it gets worse and embarrasses the whole country so that decisive action can be taken. Whilst Cosatu would encourage South Africans to support the Springboks, Rassie is pushing black South Africans away from the team with his discriminatory attitude and actions,” the statement concluded.
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu'inukuafe
Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Jack Goodhue, 23 Damian McKenzie
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jesse Kriel 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Beast Mtawarira, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Cheslin Kolbe