Nick Mallett and Naas Botha have called for clearer thinking around the subject of transformation in SA rugby.
In a wide-ranging article, The Guardian takes an in-depth look at the state of the game in South Africa 25 years since the Springboks’ return to international rugby.
Touching on the subject of SA Rugby’s aim to have 50-50 representation in national teams by 2019, Mallett said there was still some way to go before that could be achievable.
‘Ideally we would like to just pick the best players, but transformation is part of South Africa and it is possible to get close to that 50% mark even now. But the coaches and selectors haven’t used their brains.
‘We even picked a white scrumhalf, Francois Hougaard, on the wing – as Allister Coetzee did last year. It was a poor decision because we have some great black wingers. It was a real slap in the face of any competitive black player.
‘And when you look at fullback, we have three players, Dillyn Leyds, Warrick Gelant and Andries Coetzee, who is holding the position down. They are of similar ability. My view is you must give the opportunity to the black player [Gelant or Leyds] because you’re not going to weaken the side.
‘If we look at fullback, both wings, outside centre, where Lionel Mapoe is very good, the back four positions could be occupied by really strong and skilful black players.
‘We have Elton Jantjies at 10 and Beast Mtawarira is doing a great job up front. Six out of 15 is not a disaster in transformation terms. You’re really only looking for one more player to virtually get the 50% for 2019. But the Hougaard decision was insensitive and shows a lack of understanding of transformation.’
Meanwhile, Botha insisted that transformation should not be used as an excuse for the poor performances of teams in South Africa.
‘I never had any complaints regarding the way forward. It’s the new South Africa and for rugby to grow you must involve everybody. I just get fed up with people saying the quota system is the problem. Absolute nonsense.
‘We are not losing because of quotas. We lose because we’re not playing well. I watched the semi-finals of the Currie Cup and half the guys couldn’t even catch the ball.’
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