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SA rugby in quotas versus targets row



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South African rugby, still reeling from the backlash of the decision to ban overseas-based players from playing for the Springboks, is facing another humiliating public spat between it’s leading officials.

The national controlling body, the South African Rugby Union (SARU), is split over whether “quotas” or “targets” should be employed to solve the union’s transformation headache.

Weekend newspapers reported on how SARU president Oregan Hoskins has become caught up in the transformation battle, which could see a dramatically different Springbok team take to the field next year.

In essence, Hoskins is for targets – where players of colour (non-white players) are brought systematically through the ranks so that they are eventually selected for the national team on merit and ensures the team is also representative of the demographics of the country.

In the opposing camp is a group of politically-driven officials who are desperate to enforce quotas – which implies that selections are made with bias and not on merit. This is a way of fast-tracking the process to get a national team that is reflective of the country’s demographics.

Hoskins, in an interview with the Independent Group newspapers at the weekend, has set a target of at least seven players of colour in the Springbok starting XV in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

This is a far cry from the quota camp, which wants the team to have at least 10 black players in the Bok team in 2008 already.

Hoskins, at the weekend, again emphasises the fact that the game’s administrators, and not the national selectors, would be judged on transformation.

“At the announcement of the 2007 World Cup squad I said the administration – and not the national selectors – must take the blame for the slow pace of transformation,” Hoskins was quoted as saying in the Independent Group newspapers.

“We had to act immediately to address it, but there had to be substance to our way forward. There is no quick fix and we had to agree on a target for 2011. We have to ensure that every opportunity is created so that the national selectors can meet this target in the next four years.”

Hoskins emphasised that he was looking at a targets, not quotas.

“We, as the game’s leadership, must take charge of transformation issues. There can be no turning back on our commitment to change. We are not forcing the national coach to pick seven or eight black players in 2008. It is a target we believe can be achieved by the next World Cup when we can confidently say the Springboks represent everyone in South Africa, and that every player in the starting XV is there on merit.

“Should the coach be unable to meet this target because of injuries or unavailability it will not be forced on him. We don’t want a situation where a coach is forced to pick what he believes to be an inferior player. That is why we agreed not to go the quota route, in which a black player is immediately at a disadvantage and not judged as a rugby player.

“It is our view that if black players are given the necessary opportunities in the Currie Cup and Super 14, there is no reason the national coach and his selectors won’t be able to meet this target.

“We as an administration don’t differentiate between ethnic black and coloured, although I made it clear it is unacceptable that some unions don’t invest in ethnic black players.”

Meanwhile the Afrikaans Sunday newspaper, Rapport, claimed to be in possession of a secret document in which it was proposed that a “quota” of at least six black players must be in every senior national team next year.

According to the newspaper at least four non-white players have to be on the playing field at all times, while non-white players who have played more than three Tests no longer qualify for these quotas.

This could result in as many as 12 players of colour to be in the

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