South Africa’s rugby bosses on Friday formally adopted a transformation charter designed to significantly increase the number of black people involved in the sport.
SA Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskens told a media briefing in Cape Town that SARU’s President’s Council had given its blessing to the “scientifically-based” seven page document, Sapa reported.
He said the charter aimed to bring about transformation in a “true and holistic” way by ensuring equitable access at all levels to resources including finance, support services, and participation
It also sought to promote the game in all communities in order to extend rugby’s participation and support base.
A “scorecard” mechanism would be used to monitor progress towards these goals. The charter commits all Saru components to develop a “culture of rugby” that includes ensuring facilities are provided close to where people live, that clubs are established or rekindled in communities, and that rugby increases its share of overall sport participation at school level.
It also commits them to “work tirelessly towards the eradication of institutionalised racism in rugby”. In an apparent reference to quotas, it says the transformation process will involve “the dual application of the principles of universality and merit until the ‘playing fields’ are levelled”.
Asked what the charter would mean for the overwhelmingly white Springbok team, Hoskens said the Boks would always be an area of major importance.
“But what we’re saying is that transformation doesn’t start or end with representivity in the national team or senior provincial teams.
“Transformation is an enduring issue which needs to be tackled properly, holistically and really methodically.”
He said the quota system that was introduced in rugby at senior levels had been criticised as being extremely negative and detrimental to the quota players themselves.
“So officially South African rugby doesn’t have a quota system… but we know that teams have the reality of playing certain black players because it’s going to look silly if they don’t have those black players in the team.
“And we see it as a positive thing that players are not called quota players any more, but they’re in the team because… they’re good enough to be in that team.”
He hoped that numbers would increase steadily to the extent that there would one day be a “truly South African team” that everyone could support without having to bother about the colour of players.
“We don’t want to be destructive and stand at their door and say, let’s see how many black players are running past or you’re not going to take the field…. We’re pragmatic about it.”