SARU president shrugs off quota row

Date published: June 24 2014

The International Rugby Board has once again been called on to intervene in the thorny issue of racial quotas in South African rugby teams.

The International Rugby Board has once again been called on to intervene in the thorny issue of racial quotas in South African rugby teams.

On Monday, SARU president Oregan Hoskins was quoted in the South African press saying “black players, specifically 'African blacks' should be given more chances” in the Springbok team.

Hoskins personally delivered a message to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer about having a greater representation of blacks in the national team following a meeting with the SA Olympic Committee (Sascoc) in Johannesburg last week.

“I spoke to the coach and he agreed, the time is right for this. I believe we will already see a change or two against Scotland this coming weekend,” Hoskins told Afrikaans daily Die Beeld.

Sascoc said that SARU had “made positive strides all round” as an organisation, “contrary to popular perception that SARU has no transformation plans and no transformation process”, said chief executive Tubby Reddy.

“We received figures to substantiate SARU's transformation agenda and achievements thus far as well as their footprint around the country. They are clearly focused on creating opportunities for all the people of our country.

“However, we noted that there is still a lack of transformation in the Springbok team hence the perception that SARU isn't transformed or has no intention to transform. It's clear that over the last 20 years in a democratic SARU and in all sport in general, we have not sufficiently addressed the implementation process, to realise the transformation agenda.”

Civil rights organisation AfriForum said on Monday that a legal team is preparing to submit an official complaint to the IRB, against the SA Rugby Union's proposed quota system.

AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel said IRB rules prohibited racial discrimination and political interference in rugby.

“SARU's instruction to the Springbok coach is a crude form of racial discrimination and an indication that SARU has surrendered to the quota threats of the Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula,” Kriel said in a statement.

AfriForum's legal team would look into the possibility of opening a case with the International Court for Arbitration in Sport.

Kriel said it was not in the interest of South African rugby, players or the supporters of the sport for SARU to “blatantly contravene” the IRB's rules.

AfriForum supported rugby development, and wanted everyone to have the opportunity to participate in the sport, he said.

“A racial quota system disadvantages all talented players of all races,” Kriel said.

“White players are disadvantaged because they are excluded from participation based on their race and the validity of the inclusion of black players in teams is by default suspect.”

Hoskins, who is also the vice-chairperson of the IRB, does not appear to be fazed by AfriForum's threats.

“They (AfriForum) have been writing to the IRB for a long time, this is not the first time they are doing it. I'm not going to react to them,” he told the Cape Times on Tuesday.

AfriForum's complaint was based on by-law 3 of the IRB rules and regulations. It compels the IRB to prevent any form of racial discrimination in rugby.

Regulation 20 determines that any action in rugby which entails racial discrimination amounts to “misconduct”.

The IRB may institute disciplinary steps against any rugby body that violates these rules.

“SARU and government should address their own failure to develop young talent at school level with development programmes rather than playing the numbers game in a top-down manipulation of the sport,” said Kriel.