Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa and SA Rugby president Mark Alexander during a rugby match in 2019. Picture: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix
Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa and SA Rugby president Mark Alexander during a rugby match in 2019. Picture: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

SA Rugby’s bosses acting with authority, while CSA is a shambles

By Mark Keohane Time of article published Oct 16, 2020

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BY the time you read this, there would have been confirmation that the world champions Springboks will not defend their Rugby Championship title.

South Africa’s best locally based players will play exclusively in the domestic competition that started a fortnight ago and will run until the middle of January.

South Africa, on a global rugby stage, is flexing its muscle for all the right reasons. It is in absolute contrast to the shambles that parades as South African cricket.

The national cricket governing body, supposed custodians of the sport, have over the past decade systematically destroyed the operational aspects of the sport in this country.

Sponsorships have been lost, players have been lost to overseas, fan support has been lost and the integrity of the game’s administration has been compromised through maladministration, political agendas and varying degrees of corruption allegations.

The government has intervened, which in itself seems like a contradiction because in this current climate, the government is hardly a bastion of purity and functional excellence.

Should the government take charge of cricket, then the International Cricket Council will, even if temporarily, suspend the Proteas from all international cricket.

Cricket, in the past week, has dominated the front pages and news sections, when cricket should be about sports sites and sports pages.

Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada is the leading wicket taker at the Indian Premier League being played in Dubai, but his bowling brilliance seems almost secondary to every Cricket South Africa administration scandal.

Everything within cricket screams clandestine because of the unethical nature of how cricket has operated.

Transparency, within cricket, is now an ugly word when at one stage cricket was the sport in South Africa that prided itself on transparency and transformation.

Rugby, the shamed sibling, is now the golden child.

Captain Siya Kolisi’s transformed Springboks conquered the world at the 2019 World Cup in smashing England 32-12 in the final in Tokyo, Japan.

Rugby’s leadership, in the build-up to the World Cup a year ago, has said and done all the right things.

During the most demanding of times because of the Covid-19 pandemic, rugby’s bosses have acted with calm and spoken with clarity.

South Africa Rugby Union boss Jurie Roux and president Mark Alexander have consistently said that any decision in relation to the Springboks would be made for rugby reasons, which spoke to player welfare and what was good for the player and for the future of South African rugby.

This, they said, would not be compromised for the need to make quick cash.

All on-field rugby recommendations would be made by World Cup-winning coach and national director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, and his recommendations would be accepted.

It was Erasmus’s view that the Springboks in this year’s Rugby Championship would be lambs to the slaughter, having to leave for Australia tomorrow after just one round of competitive action.

The Springbok squad would have had to total 45 players because of Covid-19 infection fears, and these 45 players would have to quarantine in a bubble for the next fortnight before playing in the tournament opener on November 7.

Rugby’s bosses are acting with authority and with aplomb, whereas their cricket equivalents are a combination of disgust and disgrace.

You couldn’t have predicted this a decade ago, which tells you how rugby has progressed and cricket has regressed.

* Keohane is an award-winning sports journalist and a regular contributor to IOLsport

@mark_keohane

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