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Transformation – Hoskins ‘promises’ more changes

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With South African rugby already facing some radical changes – a Springbok team in 2008 that includes 10 non-white players – South African Rugby Union (SARU) president Oregan Hoskins on Tuesday suggested that more changes might be in the offing.

Speaking to the government’s portfolio committee on sport, where SARU faced its customary dressing down over a lack of transformation, Hoskins hinted that he will seek to change the sport’s constitution to speed up transformation.

Hoskins’ declaration came on a day when more politicians jumped on the transformation bandwagon.

Not only were members of the portfolio committee on sport lining up to take pot shots at the hapless rugby bosses, but United Democratic Front (UDF) leader Bantu Holomisa has called for an “independent commission” to investigate transformation in rugby.

And SA rugby’s biggest nemesis, portfolio committee chairperson Butana Komphela, who recently suggested the players should have their passports impounded if the team did not become more representative of the country’s ethnic mix, also weighed in with his usual barrage.

Hoskins, clearly on the back foot, admitted that SARU may have to resort to more drastic measures than they have in recent times.

“I’m not happy with the pace of transformation as the leader of SARU,” Hoskins said.

“Our current constitution might have been suited to an amateur era. We need to look at it and put it to the presidents’ council for possible modification.

“To move rugby forward SARU must have more authority. Change is not something we need to fear.”

Komphela raised concerns not only about a lack of “black” representation in the Springbok team, but also the Super 14 sides.

“The Super 14 franchises are one of the culprits that aren’t giving black players equal opportunities on the field,” said Komphela, who is a member of the governing African National Congress.

“To what extent are the Super 14 teams helping the national team in terms of transformation? Do the provincial teams share the same ideas and vision as the national leadership?

“It’s a fact that you can’t find black players ready to play for the Springboks from anywhere else but the provincial teams.

“Sport cannot be exonerated from the broad picture of government programmes.

“Sport cannot be excluded from imperatives of empowerment and transformation,” Komphela added.

Tsietsi Louw, another ANC member of the committee, said that black players aspiring to play for the national side were running into obstacles that had nothing to do with their ability.

“We are dealing with a political problem here,” he said.

“We have all these players moving up [through the ranks] but when they get there, there is a bottleneck. There is a deliberate political agenda to keep these black players where they are. Only three or four will [succeed].”

Union representatives were mistaken if they believed they were “doing us a favour” by reporting they had three black players on board, said Louw.

“How is it possible that after 13 years we have only three players?”
The UDF leader, Holomisa, said current state of rugby administration was questionable and called for an independent commission.

“The national leadership claims it has transformation targets in place, but reality does not reflect this,” Holomisa said.

“In order to achieve tangible and implemental outcomes…it would therefore require the appointment of an independent two – or three-person committee to investigate transformation, equity and BEE status of the entire rugby administration.”

Blue Bulls general manager Johan Schoeman said a lack of emphasis on rugby in many schools was making it difficult for the union to achieve higher transformation targets.

“Other stakeholders, such as the department of education, local governments and provincial sports departments

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