MARK KEOHANE praises South African minister of sport Zizi Kodwa’s appreciation of rugby’s unifying power and avoidance of divisive racial narratives.
Writing for TimesLIVE, Keohane commends Kodwa for endorsing the new Springbok coaching team appointed by SA Rugby this week, without focusing on race, despite predictable criticism suggesting a lack of black appointments.
“I welcome the new appointments to the Springboks technical team,” Kodwa tweeted after Rassie Erasmus was confirmed to be returning as head coach, with the inclusion of newcomers, defence coach Jerry Flannery and attack specialist Tony Brown.
The rest of the backroom staff – sans former assistant coach Felix Jones – remains the same as the one that led the Boks’ 2023 Rugby World Cup defence in France, while double world champion Duane Vermeulen will become the third member of a mobi-coaching unit.
Kodwa added: “I encourage them to continue the path to elevate SA rugby. I applaud the appointment of recently retired Bok legend Duane Vermeulen, which signifies a key pathway to coaching & sports administration for ex-players.”
Reflecting on his experience more than 20 years ago as Bok communications manager, Keohane recounts the challenges of addressing transformation issues with former sports minister Ngconde Balfour.
He emphasises the positive change in 2024, where the political landscape and coaching selections are more inclusive and less prone to color-coded political games.
“Finally, a minister of sport in South Africa with an appreciation of sport, the power of sport to unify, and an individual with no interest in playing selector, evoking hysteria or trumpeting perceptions in the guise of fact,” Keohane writes.
“In Zizi Kodwa, [SA has] a minister who sees excellence, sees unity and does not seek to divide along racial lines, be it in sport, arts or culture.
“Erasmus has lured two jewels to his Bok treasure chest in Brown and Flannery and the reaction from Minister Kodwa was that of a leader who gets what it takes to make the treasure chest even more valuable. Salute.”
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