The return of quotas?
10 Jan 2008
Saru’s public admission that Peter de Villiers is not only a rugby appointment suggests more politicking could be felt in the coming Super 14.
Transformation is no new concept, but words like quota have become taboo. Regan Hoskins clarified Saru’s stance following the World Cup last year. “I have always been against quotas, and (in 2008) we will have no quotas in any of our competitions.”
When the five coaches of 2007 were ‘encouraged’ to include more black players at Super Rugby level, the response was far from adequate. ‘Encouragement’ involved two black players in the starting line-up, meaning that out of 75 starting players, 10 were of colour. This in turn told when Jake White selected his first Springbok squad in May, and ultimately his World Cup group in August. White was limited to the players supplied on the Super Rugby stage.
Will anything change with the appointment of De Villiers?
The new Bok coach has said he doesn’t want to change much in the way of playing structures, and is committed to picking the best available team. It follows that to keep the administrators happy and stay true to his own principles he needs more black players exposed to Super Rugby on a regular basis.
Can De Villiers trust the Super 14 coaches to do the best they can? Obviously injuries need to be taken into account, but if Saru issue a mandate to play a specific number of black players, doesn’t that make the national coach’s job easier when the time comes to live up to his patent political obligations?
There is no point debating the rights and wrongs of a quota system. Regan Hoskins expressed his desire to be honest about De Villiers’s appointment as one for more than just rugby reasons. If this is to be considered the first of many transparent moves by Saru, the next logical step is strict guidelines concerning the inclusion of black talent in matchday squads.
The alternative is more behind the scenes chaos and public contradiction. Late changes to starting XVs due to unhappy politicians at both franchise and national level have abounded since the quotas were ‘officially’ discarded.
De Villiers will meet with Frans Ludeke, Naka Drotske, Eugene Eloff, Rassie Erasmus and Dick Muir on 14 January. What changes will really be made when the panel discusses the issue of transformation? Call it what you want, quotas, directives or targets, but Saru have talked up a big game as far as transformation is concerned and have in the past admitted that it needs to happen from the bottom up. Will this bluster translate into something more concrete on the Super Rugby stage, or will De Villiers be in the same position Jake White was a year ago?
By Jon Cardinelli