Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett believes SA Rugby’s transformation target for the 2019 Rugby World Cup is achievable, but has lamented the way it has been implemented by coaches and selectors.
According to SA Rugby’s strategic transformation plan, the goal is for the Springbok team to be made up of 50% black and coloured players at the next World Cup in Japan.
Mallett spoke to English publication, The Guardian, which published an in-depth look at the state of rugby in South Africa 25 years since the Springboks' return to the international fold.
“Ideally we would like to just pick the best players but transformation is part of South Africa and it is possible to get close to that 50% mark even now,” Mallett said.
“But the coaches and selectors haven’t used their brains. We even picked a white scrumhalf, Francois Hougaard, on the wing - as Allister Coetzee (Springbok coach) did last year.
“It was a poor decision because we have some great black wingers. It was a real slap in the face of any competitive black player. And when you look at fullback we have three players, Dillyn Leyds, Warrick Gelant and Andries Coetzee, who is holding the position down. They are of similar ability. My view is you must give the opportunity to the black player (Gelant or Leyds) because you’re not going to weaken the side.”
According to Mallett, the Boks are close to being able to field a 50% black team.
“If we look at fullback, both wings, outside centre, where Lionel Mapoe is very good, the back four positions could be occupied by really strong and skilful black players. We have Elton Jantjies at 10 and Beast Mtawarira is doing a great job up front. Six out of 15 is not a disaster in transformation terms. You’re really only looking for one more player to virtually get the 50% for 2019. But the Hougaard decision was insensitive and shows a lack of understanding of transformation.”
Mallett, who coached the Springboks to a then world-record-equalling run of 17 consecutive Test victories in 1998, currently works as a rugby pundit for pay-channel SuperSport.