• ‘Transformation top of coach’s agenda’

    Saru president Oregan Hoskins says transformation was one of the key points of discussion with Heyneke Meyer prior to his decision to step down as Bok coach, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

    Addressing the media at Saru's offices in Cape Town on Friday to discuss Meyer’s resignation, Hoskins admitted the decision had not come as a surprise after recent talks with the outgoing Bok coach.

    ‘The upper leadership met with Heyneke a few weeks ago. It was a very fruitful discussion, but after those talks, the decision did not come as a surprise. We discussed a number of issues, one being our transformation imperatives. We had an open and frank discussion on that issue because, for me, it was an important issue.

    ‘In the next four years in the buildup to the next World Cup, transformation will be key for this organisation, and it’s something we’re discussing all the time. We have a duty to meet those transformation imperatives that we’ve agreed to. From a Saru perspective, we have to be pretty emphatic about the issue of transformation. Heyneke understood that, and knew what the transformation imperatives were.’

    Saru has committed to an agreement that will aim to ensure the rate of transformation is increased at all levels of rugby in the years to come, and ultimately for the Springbok team to be represented with 50% white and 50% black players by 2019.

    Hoskins said this would be a key consideration for the next coach who will be taking on a new four-year term.

    ‘Transformation is a dynamic thing and whoever applies for the job must know that it has to be top of his agenda. As an organisation we have to be harder than we’ve ever been before and lay a huge emphasis on that. We’ve signed an agreement, we believe in it and have to go forward with that in mind. If anyone wants to be coach, they have to understand that transformation is going to be a big part of that job, which goes along with everything else. We have diverse opinions in this country, and transformation remains of utmost importance going forward.’

    Towards the end of his tenure, Meyer came under increasing pressure over the perceived slow rate of transformation at Springbok level. When asked whether he felt Meyer could have done more to aid the cause in his selections, Hoskins remained non-committal, but reiterated that it was not the policy of Saru to interfere in the selection process of the coach.

    ‘When Peter de Villiers became the coach, Saru had taken the decision that the leadership should not interfere with team selection. That’s still the policy, and it has remained that way, but we might have to look at it going forward. As a leadership, you have to trust the coaches put in place to make those selection decisions. I come from a background where I want to see those [transformation imperative] selections happening more and more, but it’s a fine line when it comes to a case of interfering as an administrator.’

    However, Hoskins was adamant that not enough was being done at franchise level to assist the rate of transformation at the highest level.

    ‘We’re at a crisis point in terms of that. That glass ceiling has become almost concrete, and we need to break it. And the way we need to break it is through the franchises – they need to play their part. Cosatu is going to ask for me to be fired – which is fine, I’ll have to walk the plank – but the presidents of the big unions will have to be right behind me unless they assist us in transformation.

    'All the Bok coaches have said they need to see more being done at the franchise level in terms of assisting with transformation, and my appeal for 2016 is that we see much more exposure for players of colour.’

    Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

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    Craig Lewis