‘Saru must be accountable’

South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula says in order for transformation to move forward it must expand from grassroots level.

In what effectively served as a post mortem following the Boks’ World Cup campaign, Mbalula addressed the media in Johannesburg on Thursday, where he extensively discussed the subject of transformation during a wide-ranging briefing.

‘We signed an agreement with Saru in May,' he said. 'Our approach to transformation is organic. We expect Saru to implement the policies that have been signed, that will be evaluated and the leadership will have to be accountable for this implementation when we get the reports back.'

Mbalula said they would continue to closely monitor the progress of this transformation agreement.

‘I’m fully aware of the frustration of the players, but we will move transformation forward. We need to expand from grassroots level, and I’m zooming in on rugby because it's as if nothing has been done.’

Mbalula said black players should only earn selection if they were deserving of their place in the side: ‘Black players must not be included because the populace is crying. They must be included on merit.’

Touching on the subject of Heyneke Meyer’s future as Bok coach, Mbalula said he was not involved in the process, and was therefore unaware of any possible contract extension.

‘The sports ministry does not hire or fire coaches. I have no report saying a new coach has been appointed … Saru will now meet and decide on Heyneke Meyer. That's not the sports ministry's decision.’

However, Mbalula said that while the ANC might support the Bok coach, it shouldn’t be misconstrued to suggest Meyer should necessarily stay in his position.

Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis