Transformation not Bok coach's job
The pressure may be on Heyneke Meyer to select more 'black African' players, but transformation is not the Springbok coach's responsibility.
The dreaded 'T-word' – which has been voiced unstintingly by politicians in recent months – received more airtime on Monday when South African Rugby Union President Regan Hoskins made it clear he wants to see more non-white faces in the national team.
Hoskins said he personally spoke to the Bok coach, Meyer, and said players like Teboho Mohoje, Sibusiso Sithole, Lwazi Mvovo, Siya Kolisi and Trevor Nyakane must get opportunities sooner rather than later.
The SARU boss said he was referring specifically to 'black Africans', when he suggested some changes could be made ahead of SA's one-off Test against Scotland in Port Elizabeth this coming Saturday.
SARU Chief Executive Jurie Roux confirmed that Hoskins had spoken to the Bok coach about the vexed issue of more black players in the national team, but added that it is not up to the Bok coach to bring these players through the ranks.
He suggested transformation is a much bigger issue than just how many non-white (or black Africans) play for the Boks.
"It [transformation] is wider rugby's job – from age group level, Cup, Currie Cup and Super Rugby level upwards to provide the volume of talented players – black African, coloured and white – from which our national coaches can pick what we hope will be world-beating teams," Roux told rugby365.
Roux added that all SARU's national coaches are aware of the need to be sensitive to transformation, as they sit most in the public eye.
"There has not been a SARU president who has not discussed the issue of transformation with the national coach," the CEO said.
"The topic is at the top of our agenda and we do not shy away from that.
"But what became evident from the work of the Eminent Persons' Group is that although significant progress has been made in terms of transformation, the development of black African sports stars in sports such as ours – as well as others – had lagged."
Hoskins' discussion with Meyer came in the wake of the revelation that the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee came out and praised SARU for its effort in transformation, contrary to the popular perception that the union has no transformation plans.
SASCOC CEO Tubby Reddy last week said he was pleased with the steps taken by SARU thus far.
Hoskins admitted that there is "pressure from above" to give black players more opportunities at national level.
By Jan de Koning