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Mallett in the dock over ‘quota’ comment?

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Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett could find himself in hot water with his current employers, Western Province, for allegedly telling French club Montpellier that South Africa has ‘quota problems’. That is, of course, if the South African Rugby Union (SARU) has its way…

Earlier this week, we reported that Montpellier had signed four South African players; centres Frikkie Welsh (Bulls) and Grant Rees (Sharks), Sharks flanker Warren Britz and lesser-known Griquas prop forward Eugene van Staden.

A report on the official Montpellier website said Welsh had been forced to move abroad again because of “the quota system” – that after one of Montpellier’s coaches, Didier Norault, claims Mallett informed them “about the quota problems that South African teams have”.

Mallett, who has lived and coached in France for many years, met with Nourault and Alain Hyardet – the Montpellier coaches – during a recent three-week visit to SA, which saw the Frenchmen spend time with the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions, with the view to “filling the tank” with ideas and players ahead of the 2007/08 season.

Seemingly, Mallett’s alleged comments have now upset the powers that be at the South African Rugby Union, with SARU’s deputy Chief Executive Mveleli Ncula slamming the former Bok coach, who back in 2000 was forced out of his job as national coach for alleged comments about exorbitant Test ticket prices.

Ncula would like to see Mallett’s employers, WP Rugby, discipline the ex-Bok boss, who recently announced that he would not be re-applying as Director of Rugby at the underfire union. It is thought that Mallett could get a coaching job in France next year, with the French national job becoming vacant after the 2007 World Cup.

“Western Province must put Mallett on the carpet,” Ncula told Die Burger.

“It is silly of him to encourage players to leave South Africa, especially when not enough opportunities are being created for black players.

“Western Province have many black players in their ranks, but seldom select more than two or three for a team.”

According to Ncula, SA players are moving abroad for financial reasons: “It’s about money; nothing else. They should be honest.”

Die Burger attempted to contact Mallett, who declined to comment on his discussions with Montpellier.

It does, however, seem ludicrous that Mallett could once again find himself in hot water over an alleged off-the-record comment to somebody, although it does appear that Mallett will always have his enemies in South African rugby, despite his success and popularity abroad.

 365 Digital

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