Draft dodged, transformation paramount

South Africa’s five franchises have submitted unchanged 30 man squads for the inaugural Super 14, with none exercising the option to draft a player from outside their region. Meanwhile Saru has laid express guidelines for the execution of transformation in the competition.

That was the outcome of a meeting between the five franchises earlier this afternoon in Johannesburg. Keo.co.za has learnt that, whilst all the coaches are satisfied that none of their own players have been snapped up, there was disappointment in the slim pickings available.

“No-one’s available,” Stormers head coach Kobus van der Merwe told keo.co.za. “There’s a lot of injuries and so no-one has been drafted. I’m very pleased with our squad, comparing it to the others. I’m optimistic at this stage.”

Van der Merwe’s optimism is shared by Cats coach Frans Ludeke and Bulls CEO Stephan Pretorius.

“I’m glad with how things went. I’m very relieved to keep all the guys,” Ludeke said.

“Our primary aim at the meeting was to ensure we lost no players, and we achieved that, so I’m very satisfied,” Pretorius concurred.

The major issue at the meeting emerged as transformation, with the following guidelines being set by Saru:

* Every franchise has to have a minimum of 8 players of colour in their 30 man squad

* All 8 players must be given reasonable game time, a situation that will be monitored on a week-to-week basis by the national selectors

* The status quo of two black wingers is no longer acceptable

* A minimum of 4 players must be in every match 22

* At all times, 2 players of colour must be on the field

Keo.co.za has learnt that Saru president Brian van Rooyen issued the verbal threat that if the above guidelines were not adhered to, legislation would be forced in the near future compelling South African franchises to conform.

According to the coaches present, the guidelines laid down were “very satisfactory” and none expressed grievances.

Bok coach Jake White reserved the right to make requests with regard to selection throughout the Super 14, but stated firmly that they would be requests and not instructions. He made it clear that he understood the importance of the competition and would not interfere with the respective coaches and their decisions.

“I think I speak for all the coaches when I say I was very pleased with the meeting,” Stormers coach Van der Merwe said. “Despite the pressure of relegation, there’s a nice working relationship between the coaches and the common good of South African rugby is paramount.”