Sports minister Fikile Mbalula is pleased with the progress of transformation that Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has instilled in his short tenure.
Mbalula spoke at the Springboks’ hotel in Cape Town before they play Ireland tomorrow in the beginning of a three Test series.
The minster of sports and recreation believes that transformation comes part and parcel with Springbok rugby and that other sectors are meeting their targets.
“There’s a new coach and new players, the transformation trajectory is part of the journey to the next World Cup. In relation to the Boks, I think serious work has begun, not only at the national level, but at grassroots level … We’ve got an abundance of talent in South Africa, and we have to uncover it,” Mbalula told SARugby Magazine.
“Look at the U20 team playing in the World Championship, there is excellent talent coming out there. There’s also a lot of progress in the sevens team. There is a lot of talent in this country and it tells you about the talent we have at the various levels. There are other JP Pietersens and Bryan Habanas. Look at the likes of Garth April, give the likes of those players an opportunity, let them run, let them play … I’m excited by what I see at U20 level, at that incubation stage, which can supply talent to the top level.
The agreed upon targets for transformation has been set at having half the side as player of colour and 60% of those must be black African by the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Mbalula stressed that quotas are not the answer when it comes to tramsforming the team.
“We must acknowledge that quotas don’t help, they’re counter-productive,’ he added. ‘If you select someone as a quota player, it’s an insult. How can you participate in a national team if you’re not there on merit? But we’ve got to go down to get this talent that we have in abundance, and bring it to the fore. Merit is not dissociated with transformation. I don’t want quotas, I don’t want the targets to be met in that way just to make the minister happy. It’s about an integrated society and going through a process to get the national teams to where they should be.