The chairperson of parliament’s portfolio committee on sport has urged Jake White to quit as Bok coach.
SABC radio reported Butana Komphela as citing White’s failure to select black rugby players to play for South Africa in last Saturday’s Test against France, which the Springboks lost.
Komphela accused White of not being committed to the South African Rugby Association’s transformation charter.
“As he is saying he wants to go, we are saying as the committee in parliament, that he could have left yesterday so that progress could be made in rugby in this country.”
Komphela said White had been “stifling” the inclusion of black players into the team with the rationale that the existing team was already a “winning team”.
“Its not about a winning team. Its about a winning team that has the support of the country behind it,” said Komphela.
“We are battling, to make rugby to be a sport that has the general support of this country.”
Komphela’s remarks are absurd. And highly irresponsible when you consider who White has picked since taking charge of the Springboks.
During his stint as Bok coach, White has provided opportunities to several black African players, including Hanyani Shimange, Lawrence Sephaka, Gcobani Bobo, Solly Tyibilika and Tim Dlulane. He is also expected to select Chiliboy Ralepelle and one of the Ndungane twins, probably Odwa, for the Vodacom Tri-Nations.
Bryan Habana, Ricky Januarie, Eddie Andrews, Breyton Paulse, Ashwin Willemse, Conrad Jantjes, Bolla Conradie, Gurthro Steenkamp, Quinton Davids and Wayne Julies have also played Test rugby under White over the last two years.
When Rudolf Straeuli’s 2003 Springboks lost the World Cup quarter-final, Willemse was the only player of colour in the match 22. When White’s Boks beat the Wallabies at Ellis Park in 2005, nine of the 22 were players of colour.
Where White has suffered is with injury to players like Steenkamp, Willemse and a loss of form with the likes of Tyibilika and Januarie.