Wednesday 18 July 2018

South African trade union claims five black players are unhappy with Heyneke Meyer

South Africa head coach Heyneke Meyer
South Africa head coach Heyneke Meyer

South Africans must be patient with the pace of transformation in the country's national rugby side and will not be asking for more black players at the World Cup, sports minister Fikile Mbalula said.

The debate over racial quotas and transformation in the Springbok team flared up again in the wake of Saturday's shock 37-25 home defeat to Argentina, with the country's biggest trade union wading into the argument

Two black players, Zimbabwe-born prop Tendai Mtwarira and experienced wing Bryan Habana, were included in coach Heyneke Meyer's starting XV against The Pumas.

Flank Siya Kolisi, wing Lwazi Mvovo and prop Trevor Nyakane came off the bench.

Mbulula, a prolific user of Twitter, took to the social media platform to back the current set-up and suggest those frustrated cannot expect change "overnight".

"Full transformation in rugby is not going to emerge overnight because we are going to the World Cup," Mbalula said.

"I have (previously) addressed the transformation issues and I have gone a long way in doing so. We need a winning team that is black and white going to the World Cup."

Issues around the racial make-up of the South African side have risen prior to every World Cup they have competed in -- starting with their victory on home soil in 1995 when wing Chester Williams was the only non-white member of the squad.

The influential Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has called on South Africa to pick a more "mixed" team for Saturday's test in Argentina.

"No other team could possibly perform worse and we insist that a more representative team be picked for the next game against Argentina," Cosatu said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The performance next week of the mixed team should then lay to rest once and for all the obvious advantages of picking mixed teams.

"The coach played many of the white players out of their positions... where clearly there were black players available.

"When he does bring in a few black players, the quality of play changed; but too little too late.

"There is a white cabal who still tries to control the rugby team and who gets to play in it."

The statement was released after chairperson of the Western Cape branch of the union Motlatsi Tsubane said that five black players had raised their concern, and that a further two white players “put their weight behind the matter”.

“Unfortunately for obvious reasons we are not in a position to give names because, at the end of the day, we still have to sit down and engage with them so they can give a clear overview of what is happening,” Tsubane said.

Up until 1992 black players were prohibited from playing for the Springboks when South African society was governed by Apartheid.

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