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Fri Apr 18 03:33:41 SAST 2014

For once Div has a point

Simnikiwe Xabanisa | 20 September, 2012 06:200 Comments

IT WAS inevitable that former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers would have something to say about the progress of his successor, Heyneke Meyer.

Even more predictable was that South African rugby fans would jump down his throat for whatever utterances he made.

The website headline that got a lot of people's backs up was "Div upset with 'white' Boks".

My understanding of the article is that Div was warning the Bok coach not to alienate black supporters by giving the impression there is little space for black players in his team.

The key phrase here is "giving the impression", something you could glean only from some of Meyer's team selections.

When he has had to choose between a black player and a white player that he hasn't coached before - say Siya Kolisi and Marcell Coetzee, or Johan Goosen and Elton Janjties - he has opted for the white player.

Some might point out that Coetzee and Goosen seem to be working out, but it is only because they have been given the opportunity and the requisite faith that determines whether a player succeeds or not.

Jantjies and Kolisi were basically told they needed a bridging course before they could run with the big dogs.

There's something about being white in our rugby that implies you are likely to succeed.

Before I come under attack from the aggrieved white supporters De Villiers so enraged with his comments, I'll always (maybe naïvely) struggle to believe that there is some evil genius plotting to keep blacks out of rugby.

But De Villiers has a point because from the outside it looks as though black participation in rugby is contained so as not to exceed certain points of influence.

South African rugby in general has to be careful of the message it sends to its black supporters, however unintentional that may be. There have been a few incidents of late that have left one wondering if there is a deliberate element sometimes.

The indecent haste with which Goosen was chucked into the Bok squad, and the Kings' "inclusion" in Super rugby are just two examples.

By all accounts, Goosen is the real deal, while many experts, Joel Stransky included, aren't so sure that Jantjies is test match material.

Ignoring the shades of Vernon Philander in this logic, how will any of us know if he is not given a chance in the Bok team - a shot he continues to earn week in and week out?

Wynand Olivier - not to mention Jacques Potgieter - was given 30-odd tests to prove he wasn't test match material, and Jantjies can't even be given a handful?

The truth may well be that Meyer mistrusts players he has never worked with, but how hard is it to give rugby reasons why he continues to ignore Jantjies?

Looking at the Kings' token inclusion in Super rugby, they have been given a year to create miracles while the Lions were given 11 years to cock things up.

It's an elaborate stitch-up where the SA Rugby Union can hold up its hands and say: "There, we gave you a chance".

The general thinking in local rugby seems to be that the only people that count are the smug, self-entitled bunch who savaged De Villiers for raising a view that actually exists.

This is at the expense of the future market of the game.

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For once Div has a point

For Commenters Consideration | Please stick to the subject matter
Fri Apr 18 03:33:41 SAST 2014 ::