South Africa Springboks Rugby News

Chiliboy was a political pawn



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South African Rugby Union deputy president Mike Stofile has launched an extraordinary attack on Springbok coach Jake White, accusing him of using hooker Chilliboy Ralepelle as a ‘political pawn’.

In an exclusive interview on Monday, Stofile slammed White for giving certain players preferential treatment – making it very clear that he is not a fan of the Bok coach.

Stofile’s outburst follows just a day after Ralepelle became the first black player to captain a Springbok team – albeit an unofficial team in a non-cap international – against a World XV in Leicester on Sunday.

It should have been a weekend of celebration for transformation in South African rugby – after the national Sevens team was captained to victory in Dubai by a black player, Jonathan Mokuena – and Ralepelle ran out as captain of the Boks in Leicester, a game won 32-7 by South Africa.

The victory in Dubai gave the South African team an early lead in the International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens series circuit, while the Leicester win saw the Boks end their four-match tour on a winning note.

But Stofile felt there was not much reason to celebrate the fact that two black players had captained their country’s two top senior sides to victory on the international stage on the same weekend for the first time.

Asked what his view was of the fact that the Bok 15-man side and the national Seven-a-side teams were captained by black players on the same weekend, he launched a venomous attack on White.

“Paul Treu [the Sevens coach] has done it [appointing a black captain] without any ulterior motives,” Stofile said.

“I have the utmost respect for him [Treu]. But I have my reservations about the appointment of Ralepelle.”

Asked what he meant by that, he said that the appointment was simply just “politicking” by White. In fact, the SARU deputy president even went as far as saying that the Bok boss has been holding the young Bulls No.2 back this season.

Stofile pointed out that Ralepelle played a mere five minutes of test rugby all year till Sunday’s outing in Leicester – while White’s “favourite”, John Smit, started every meaningful SA match this year.

“If you compare who is the best hookers in the country, would you rate John Smit there?” Stofile half-asked.

“In this country there are other hookers that are much better. Schalk Brits [the injured Western Province and Stormers No.2] is our best hooker and [Chiliboy] Ralepelle is next,” Stofile said, adding that Sunday’s appointment of Ralepelle as captain was clearly “politicking” by White.

Stofile – who was at odds with SARU president Oregan Hoskins recently when there was an attempt to fire White as Bok coach – also made no secret of the fact that he dislikes the Bok mentor.

“I’m not a fan of Jake White and he knows that,” declared Stofile.

“Jake White has no time for other people. He gives preferential treatment to certain players and as a result the best teams don’t get selected.”

By Jan de Koning of 365 Digital

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