If Bok coach Heyneke Meyer had just picked Scarra Ntubeni instead of Schalk Brits, and Cobus Reinach instead of Rudy Paige, I truly believe the primary discussions since the announcement of the Bok 31 to do duty at the World Cup would have been rugby related.
Oh to be moaning about the truly incredulous selection of Coenie Oosthuizen over Vincent Koch, or the fact that Meyer is only taking threecentres, or the horror of leaving Heinrich Brussow at home…
Instead some freaks known as the Agency for a New Agenda have grabbed the headlines by going to court in order to try to prevent the side from participating in the tournament because it contains only 9 players of colour.
This while New Zealand debate the leaving out of true superstars Charles Piutau, Israel Dagg, Cory Jane and Lima Sopoaga. Only 15 guys can take to the field so the Boks will be competitive, but my word, how cool would it be to be having that level of rugby debate?
Instead the South African game remains hamstrung by our dark (rather than rainbow-like) past.
Last year AfriForum threatened to submit an official complaint to the then known IRB (now World Ruby) against SARU’s then proposed (now official) quota system. Cosatu, never shy of a punt at a political football, rejected this view as that of a racist cabal trying to defend the generational advantage of white players.
So we have one group saying the Boks do not have enough players of colour, and we have another saying the players of colour that are in the squad are unfairly keeping out white players. It’s an emotive topic that has seen the country once again severely divided.
No matter which side of the fence you find yourself on, though, there can be no denying that race plays a part in the Springbok selection process.
World Rugby’s rules and regulations prohibit racial discrimination and political interference in rugby. Bye-Law 3 says World Rugby is compelled to prevent any form of racial discrimination in rugby. Another determines that any action in rugby which entails racial discrimination amounts to “misconduct”. While another states that World Rugby may institute disciplinary steps against any rugby body that violates these rules.
So why are the Boks allowed to continue playing in World Rugby sanctioned events like the World Cup? Does the fact that South Africa are trying to redress the wrongs of a previous era mitigate against our current racial meddling? Surely that equates to two wrongs being right?
There was outrage and sanctions when South Africa did not allow players of colour to play to pay for the Boks. Where is that now? Yes we are trying to right a previous wrong, but what we are practising remains a form of social engineering.
World Rugby is probably the weakest body on earth, so do not expect anything there, but should South Africa not be banned from the game until we have sorted out our own house?
So if not World Rugby, then who?
This is NOT about which group is right or wrong, instead it is about HOW we implement righting the wrongs of the past. Yes SARU has a part to play, but surely this is primarily a government responsibility?
And if it is via the simpler big stick that is quotas, rather than the much more complex grassroots approach that should see equal schooling for all (for that is where sportsmen and woman are created and nurtured), then the government should grow a pair and stop the Boks from competing on the international stage until they are happy with the process.
Self-imposed sanctions… imagine the implications! So how badly do the government want this?
Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt.