Saru slams ‘two black wings’ syndrome

Saru CEO Johan Prinsloo has questioned the Bulls’ tendency only to start with two black wingers, highlighting the lack of representation in other positions as the national body’s major grievance. Bulls CEO Stephan Pretorius rejects the criticism.

Both CEOS spoke to keo.co.za, and yet again the only consensus is that there is no consensus. Yet again, compromise has proven the dirty word of South African rugby.

“Winning is important, and we have a lot of sympathy with the unions and the tough opposition they face,” Prinsloo said. “But the reality is we live in a country that is required to do special things because of circumstance.

“Our main problem with the Bulls is that it seems if you don’t play wing, you don’t get a look in. Players in other positions in the province must get opportunities to start and play regularly so that they can develop and become better players. It is our belief that they would get greater opportunities at other unions.”

Prinsloo stated that the letter sent to the Bulls outlining Saru’s grievances was one of assistance and not condemnation.

“This is not about singling out the Bulls. It’s about assisting them.”

Bulls CEO Pretorius dismissed Prinsloo’s statements, and felt that the union is being victimised unfairly.

“I’ve got five black wingers in my squad, but very few other plays. Gurthro Steenkamp has been out for two years, it is not wise to rush a youngster like Chilliboy Ralepelle, Tim Dlulane is receiving opportunities, Heini Adams is playing behind the Springbok scrumhalf. Those are the options. Where are we being negligent or irresponsible?

“We asked Saru pre-season whether there were any other players they felt were showing potential or that we had passed over in selecting our squad. They said no.”

Pretorius believes that the Bulls are as committed to transformation as every other union in South African rugby, and highlighted a long-term strategy coupled with short-term commitments.

“We set a pre-season target to start every one of our eight players of colour in at least one game. We’ve only played five matches, there’s still a lot of games to go.

“Saru is making a big error by just looking at player numbers in the starting team, and not at the number of black players excelling in our junior, U19 and U21 ranks. These players are coming through perfectly and to rush them would be a great disservice to their careers.”