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By Masood Boomgard
The KwaZulu-Natal rugby union is “racist” and a lobby group of rugby officials has threatened to pull out all black players and clubs from the organisation if transformation is not speeded up.
This was the dire threat from the KZN Rugby Union Transformation Committee Task Group, which served a memorandum on union president Peter Hassard and Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl this week. A copy of the document was also sent to Minister of Sport Makhenkesi Stofile.
The demands have been made public only days before the provincial union hosts a Currie Cup home semi-final, and with the Sharks sitting top of the log.
The group, which is involved in the union’s rugby development, has given the KZN Rugby Union until Wednesday to respond before it stages a “total and immediate walkout of every black club, school, KZNRU player and representative black official within the KZNRU”.
Rugby authorities have declined to elaborate on the drama, saying only that they have promised to meet the disgruntled group in a week.
Unhappiness with the pace of transformation in the sport was recently in the spotlight when it emerged Absa, the main sponsor of Currie Cup rugby, had complained to SA Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins about the low number of black players in provincial squads.
He in turn sent a letter to provincial unions, urging them to transform their teams, and then defended the bank, saying it had not insisted on quotas or threatened to withdraw sponsorship.
In the lobby group’s memorandum, concerns about transformation and development of poorer clubs were spelt out.
It has demanded wider representation of black people, not just in the provincial team, but also in administrative structures.
It demands a complete restructuring of the rugby union to include more blacks at council and executive levels, a better allocation of funds for development, greater commitment to development and faster transformation.
The task group includes rugby administrators Neville Dube and B Hlela, both of whom sit on the KZNRU’s sub-committee for development.
Fellow task group member Martin Wiseman told the Tribune: “The KZNRU is institutionally racist. They are racist not by what they say, but by their actions. They have always been suspicious of black people, but because it is unconstitutional to openly be racist they are careful.
“But under-resourcing blacks, undermining them and shoving them away in small offices is racist and it’s a kind of racism that is even more dangerous than telling a black person straight to the face that I don’t like you.”
Wiseman said many of the problems were at grassroots level. While the Sharks had four or five black players, they had been brought in from elsewhere to “make up numbers”.
“Transformation in rugby in this province is so bad that I think we’ve actually regressed. When we assessed the situation at the beginning of the year it was like nostalgia, because there were matters being tabled that were the same as those we were trying to deal with 10 years ago.
“There are people who believe that transformation is only about how many black players are on the field at any given time. We will never be able to succeed in transforming rugby if clubs in the townships and in outer-lying areas don’t even have a field.
“The situation is worse in KZN than in any other province in the country.”
Wiseman said his group wanted a “complete overhaul” of KZN rugby structures.
“The constitution needs to be rewritten to reflect the 50/50 representation that was agreed upon in the past and to give smaller clubs a voice.”
He said there was a lot of money put aside for development, but there was a lack of transparency on spending.
“Nobody knows where the money is going. And that is reflective of operational problems within the union.”
He said whites “don’t want to touch transformation”.
“Their feeling is: let’s under-resource the blacks so that they fail. Development officers who are tasked with developing rugby in the rural areas don’t even have transport to get there. How do you expect things to change if problems like those are allowed to continue to exist? - Sunday Tribune
martin wiseman your name should be spelt differently as you are not very "wise" it seems you are looking for a job and are trying to score some of the cash like so many other administrators. leave the politics and think about the consequences of your Game you are playing.
why on earth dont the blacks form their OWN rugby team? I am tired of all the 'racist' complaining - why dont they just get on with it and stop moaning? Who is more racist than the xhosa vs. zulu etc.? I dont understand this
Who is kidding who here, you only got selected for the Natal or provincial teams if you went to the correct high school. Its about time the (white) old boys club was forced to get with the times and make the changes.I think they should replace the sharks mascot to something a little more ethnic as i bet even he is white!
What has been ACCOMPLISHED @ GRASSROOTS LEVEL???? Stop calling the KETTLE BLACK!!! Let player be selected on MERIT, and MERIT ONLY! If you go to the UK, you don't tell them you from ZULULAND... you tell them you from South Africa. Build a bridge and GET OVER IT! We are ALL South Africans, no matter the colour! 17yr into democracy and still the old APARTHEID CARD GETS PLAYED! Don't you think it is a bit OVER PLAYED?
Funny how it is those who are actually in charge of transformation and development who are making these threats. All it shows is their inability to do the job they are paid to do. They are responsible for transformation, they are not doing their jobs, they should be fired on the spot as they are incapable of doing the job. Get people who can actually perform. Clubs are about people not structures. It is club members who have to put in the work, the players, the committees. They are responsible for their own success or failure. What do they expect, that someone else will come in and run their clubs, supply the kit, supply the money, do everything for them, and then they come and go as they please, just play the game and let someone else run the place. As a long standing member of a cricket club it was the players who were on the committee, it was us that did the fund raising, it was us who supplied the kit, it was us who organised everything. We never got any money to help us, we did it ourselves. We went out and organised sponsors. After a game we were fined for making runs, not making runs, we were fined for catching a catch, and for dropping a catch. We were fined for good fielding and for bad fielding. It was part of the way we did things, that way we had a good game, had some fun and raised money for the kit etc. Bottom line is that if you want to be a club member you had to get off your butt and help, if you didnt, you werent a good club member, just a taker. I remember in the mid 1990's trying to get black players into the club. We offered to supply their kit, welcomed them with open arms, we even paid their transport costs. They never came to practice regularly then complained they didnt get a game. When they were selected for a game, they didnt attend, always some lame excuse, then still expected to be part of the scene when they felt like it. We were a club whose members were from all race groups, Indian, coloured, black and white. You can guess who put in the most work and who didnt give a toss about their fellow players and members. Botton line, if you want a club, put some effort into it, otherwise it wont work, dont expect handouts, its not a charity, its like a small business. If you are not prepared to make the effort, rather stay away, but dont complain. You get what you put in. It kind of like "ask what you can do for your club, not what your club can do for you"
Was the one white guy that is blessed enough to play for our miserable excuse for a soccer team ever allowed to run onto the field during the World Cup ? Now that is transformation
Maybe we need a load of vuvuzelas at the game and it won't be racist anymore. Are you kidding me? Rugby is also racist now, what's next white shoes?
Why is Rugby being singled out about transformation when soocer consists completely of black players and nothing is being said about that? Is it because our rugby is achieving far better than our soccer team.
The wit ous should break away (with the dark ous, who want to go with). Privatise rugby and Let the RUs go and get stuffed ! ! ! ..............
ALL BLACK LOVER, wrote
THIS HAS BEEN HAPPENING FOR YEARS.NOT ONLY IN RUGBY BUT IN ROAD RUNNING TO. WHITE CLUBS WANT YOUR MONEY BUT HATE THE SIGHT OF AFRICAN,COLOUREDS AND INDIANS.
Why do we not ask the black players in the squad how they feel about this ---- is it not about time that so called "administrators" stop their bickering leave politics out of the game and let the players play the game. I do believe the sharks are selected on merit - that is why we are on top of the ccup log.
Suggest all the apologists wake up. Development in SA as a whole is woeful. KZN is appalling - this is why charities like the SA Rugby Legends have had to step into the breach. They do more than the Union does! They should be the cream on top, not the driving development force.
I think a break away rebel league should be initiated. This should include BLACKS, but the teams selected on merit. The teams should also maybe strike a deal, with say for example, private schools to host games. As far as the boks go, dunno the solution yet...however something did cross my mind, why don’t we approach the countries of Swaziland or say Lesotho. These 2 countries won’t know what hit them. So what I mean is let John Smit and his team represent Swaziland i.e. give them Swazi passports. The amount of revenue generated for Swaziland would be huge. They wouldn’t complain about transformation, they would in fact put themselves on the map. I suppose Swaziland can enter a few super 14 teams too. Although that said, it will be a matter of time before the fat cats of Swazi rugby get the smell of money – as in Africa things will go pear shaped once more :(
The Fan, wrote
It's easy people. Just vote with your wallet. End of story. I watched Heiniken Cup for the first time yesterday. I think I'll watch some more, since it's apparent that SA competitions will not be worth watching in the future.
Kevin Watson, wrote
Rugby is a professional sport. The paying public and sponsors determine the direction of the union. A failure to meet their expectations will result in a decline in revenue and the decline of the KZNRU. The Union need to spend the money as any business does to protect current revenue and to create an environment in which revenues will grow. If the Union are to spend more money on grass roots development then the clubs and players need to play their part and this requires transparency on how the funds are spent and many more "unpaid" coaches and self funded players at a grass roots level. As 60 something former professional sportsman I never received 1 cent from any source other than sponsors I found and my own endeavours, my late parents contributed nothing and in fact actively discouraged me. It also resulted in putting my career on hold for 10 years. This is the committment which non white sportsmen need to show for sport before anybody can be accused of racism or in fact failing to develop them.
Avid rugby supporter, wrote
I'll tell you what racist is Mr Wiseman. It insisting that black players are in the teams regardless of whether they are good enough or not.That, like the soccer selections are is racist. If I was an overseas player I want to play against the the countries best, not the politically instated players. The fans should boycott your racially motivated ideals.
If one does not understand the electronics of and the differance between Amateur rugby and Professional rugby, then one should not comment only for the sake of comment. In effect these people shouting against the Sharks are not interested in seeing the best players in the top teams, they want their caders to be in control for political reasons and the top teams to lower the standard of rugby to suit the financial needs of the masses, read caders. The benchmark for these people is control, regardless, everything must be either owned by the state or the masses (read cadres), or the cadres of the state. It they dont succeed in doing this, then they call the others side eigther racists of against transformation. To steal and to be corrupt and to give to the cadres they also regard as transformation. Transformation is also to give to the jackalls, the hyenas and the vultures.
This is use of a situation for selfish goals.Me thinks the three gentlemen are trying to get into management . Please next time you write about grass roots rugby .consider this a)How many minorities are involved in soccer ( other than providing sponsors of course) b)Just like ( we demand ) resources must be ploughed into grassroots rugby development,how much of the fifa millions has been allocated to soccer development in traditionally non soccer playing communities.Strange ABSA says nothing about this (or is it Strange ? ) c)The unfortunate thing is so many things can be labeled racist much the same as being accused of rape guilty until proven innocent.and many people ( not necesarilly here ) know this so they shout it from the mountain tops knowing this publicity will give them power. The comments by mr wiseman are steriotipical and contribute to the couldron of racial intolerence in this country.Why is only when certain members of society make such remarks ( ie schoeman )they are attacked.
spot on, wrote
People are just tired of all these threats.The chaps comment above soccer was spot on, no push to transform there.I can say for certain to Mr Hoskin....people will not fill the stadiums and rather watch on TV hence placing all your jobs in trouble.Best of luck and may the best player walk the field.
This is the beginning of the dismantling of the rugby structures to make it accessable to all people. The drive is not to choose the best players in the top teams, the drive is to benefit the masses on ground level, to feed the masses. To reduce rugby also to the standard the masses will be able to compete at. In stead of bringing rugby to the schools, the clubs, the infra structure and coaching to the people, and to up the standard and paticipance in numbers, no, the structures must once again be demolished to the level of the normal game that are played in parks and fields. Hoi-paloy.