A heated discussion broke out last night after a public lecture by South African Rugby Union President (Saru) Oregan Hoskins at UKZN, on the importance of sport in transforming South African society.

Hoskins spoke about how, before 1995, he had vehemently supported opposition sports teams in an act of defiance.

“But that all changed for me when Nelson Mandela walked on to that field (after the 1995 World Cup final at Ellis Park). He believed sport had the power to unite a nation and that changed my thinking for ever,” said Hoskins.

A member of the audience who stood up afterwards said he supported opposition teams.

“I will not support a team of 11 white men – they do not represent my country.”

Hoskins said he respectfully disagreed. “I want to be a part of the solution, you want to be a part of the problem.”

In his talk, Hoskins had said Saru was committed to finding solutions at grass roots.

“There is a lack of good facilities and resources in rural areas.

“There are not enough coaches who are coaching at a professional, ‘elitist’ level.

“Funds earmarked for the building of fields are not making their way to the communities that need them because provincial governments are using the money for other things.”

Hoskins said the national team would change.

“But it does not happen overnight. We need to support the team we have in place, they are so proud to play for the Springboks because they got there on merit.”

When asked about rumours of a quota system at schools level, he said: “There are no plans for any quotas, we don’t need them. We have done our research and schools are more than representative.

“There is a problem at professional provincial level though, in the under 19 and under 21 teams, where black players are hitting a glass ceiling.”

Hoskins said a charter had been signed and agreed upon by all provinces.

There were targets that each province would have to meet over the next five years.

Targets had been set in the Vodacom Cup tournament, where provincial teams had to field a minimum number of black players.

They were required to pick a minimum of seven black players in their match-day squads, two of whom must be forwards.

A minimum of five black players were required to start each match. - The Mercury