3 Apr 2007

Race IS An Issue For Springboks

Despite claims last week that South African rugby was past the point of 'quota' systems and were only picking players on merit, it is very clear that race is still a big issue for the 'Boks.

There have even been threats from Butana Komphela, the chairperson of South Africa's parliamentary committee on sport to confiscate the team's passports if "the team is not representative."

By representative, of course, Komphela means that at least six players of a world cup squad of 30 must be players of colour.

Komphela said :
"Six out of 30 is not representative, but it's a good start...In principle we won't allow a team that is not representative of the South African picture to represent the country."

Personally, I think that any kind of quota system in sport is ludicrous. South Africa have some great black and coloured players and these should be in the squad on merit. However, if the coach wants to put out an all-white first 15 for any match in the RWC, then he should feel able to do so.

But I'm willing to bet a pound to a penny (or a rand to a cent, if you prefer) that coach Jake White won't. Pressure at governmental level will force him to have at least 2 or 3 coloured or black players in the first 15.

This wouldn't be an issue at all if there wasn't a good case to be made that the best fifteen 'Boks players are all white.

This, of course, puts the Springboks at a disadvantage before even a tackle has been made in the rugby World Cup.

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