Lions in uproar over SA team

2005-07-17 21:30

Bloemfontein - The Golden Lions Rugby Union is to submit a complaint to the country's rugby bosses on Monday about the compilation of the SA Schools team.

Members of the Lions' Craven Week team were celebrating their first final victory in 16 years on Saturday when the schools' selectors named the national team.

Their joy turned sour when just one of their players, lock Giant Nkosi was included in the Schools team.

The Golden Lions Rugby Union's CEO, Andy Turner, contacted SA Rugby's CEO, Johan Prinsloo after the announcement to inform him that he was going to submit a formal complaint about the compilation of the team on Monday.

Turner said: "I am stunned and very disappointed. If this is the manner in which the best talent is identified, I am a very worried man.

"I have told Johan Prinsloo that I am going to submit a formal complaint to SA Rugby on Monday. The teams have been selected and we cannot change anything, but I would like answers to some questions.

"How can we just have one guy in the SA Schools team, while Byron Godfrey (fullback), Johan van Rensburg (flank), Ghaliel Markus (right wing) and Johan van Deventer (flank and captain), played brilliant rugby the entire week?

"How do I explain to the parents and their children that they had not been selected, although the players know they were among the best the entire week?" Turner asked.

Although the Lions were extremely disappointed, the team's hard work did not pass unnoticed.

The Lions have four players - Van Deventer (captain), Marnus van Huyssteyn (lock), JJ Pienaar (inside centre), Charl du Plessis (replacement-loosehead prop) in the SA Academy team.

Prinsloo confirmed that Turner had contacted him.

Prinsloo said: "I am waiting for a written complaint so that we (SA Rugby) can follow the correct procedure.

"I am confident that every player was given a just and fair opportunity. We know transformation must occur, but I hope the selectors tried to select the best possible side."

An executive management member of SA Rugby and chairperson of SA Rugby's junior rugby committee, Tobie Titus, said in reaction: "I believe the selectors did a good job with both teams.

"It is a fact that selectors will never satisfy everybody. A team can play well as a unit, but it does not mean that the best players are in the team."

The convener of the SA Schools selectors, Ronald Bantam, said he understood why the Golden Lions were disappointed.

"They played good rugby as a team, but we compare individuals and not teams.

"Pieter Meyer is a good example. Despite the fact that the Blue Bulls lost two matches, he was chosen because he played well as an individual. We chose the best players within the given framework.

"The selectors discussed and debated the performance of players into the small hours every day. Our decision was unanimous and Pieter (Jooste, convener of the national team) and Ian (McIntosh) were also involved.

"They were satisfied with the process and said they would explain to SA Rugby that the selection process had been just and fair"," Bantam said.