Springboks Springbok World Cup transformation

The Springboks during a training session. Photo: SA Rugby website.

Springboks now hit with transformation accusation

The Springboks have apparently been pinpointed as one of the teams that fell short of their transformation targets in 2023.

Springboks Springbok World Cup transformation

The Springboks during a training session. Photo: SA Rugby website.

The Springboks achieved history last year when they secured back-to-back World Cup titles. It was yet another famous success, while the team was also celebrated for uniting the country once again.

However, according to Sunday newspaper Rapport, a Saru report has recommended consequences for the world champion Springboks for not selecting sufficient “generic black” players in 2023.

The audit is apparently part of Saru’s Strategic Transformation Development Plan, with a target for national sports bodies to field teams that consist of 60% black and coloured players by 2030.

In 2023, the Springboks transformation targets were 54% for “generic black players” – which includes black and coloured players – of whom 27% had to be “ethnically black players”.

Yet it’s stated that in the Rugby Championship, the South African team consisted of 39% “generically black” players, of whom 13% were ethnic black players. At the World Cup, there were 38% “generically black” players – 16% of whom were ethnic black players.

The report further suggests that national youth teams – namely SA U18, SA U18 Sevens, SA Schools and SA Schools A – fell short of targets. And provincially, the Bulls and Lions ‘failed’ with their transformation record in 2023.

The Springboks have generally been praised for their transformation approach

Coach Rassie Erasmus has become one of the most loved South African sports figureheads, and recently received an honorary doctorate – which also honoured him for his bold transformation goals.

During a press conference, Erasmus provided further insights into his vision on transformation, particularly at Springbok level.

“I’ve been involved in South African rugby since 1994. Things were introduced that didn’t work, that embarrassed people, fans, media. I think the main thing was when trying to change, we struggled with the word transformation because some created a thing of it meaning ‘black people in, white people out’.

“But in other countries it’s just about change, how you communicate about it, how you operate, how you fight for your country. How diverse your management team is, how you select a team. What’s your work ethic like? We just gave the real meaning to the word transformation, which means change.

“When you look from the outside (when I was coaching Munster in Ireland), you think, hell, we can fix this by stopping embarrassing a group of people or an individual. That was the cornerstone of it, and the Springbok team currently are really so honest with each other, and everyone feels safe in the team.”

Questions also being raised about the Proteas

Recently, ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula, who previously served as South Africa’s sports minister, has questioned the lack of ‘fair representation’ in the Proteas’ T20 World Cup squad.

With former captain Temba Bavuma and Lungi Ngidi not included in the main 15-man group, it meant Kagiso Rabada was also the only black African player. The fact that only six players of colour were included – the lowest number in a Proteas squad for an ICC event since 2016 – has also raised some eyebrows.

Mbalula took to X (formerly Twitter) to voice his opinion, calling the selection a “reversal of the gains of transformation”.

“Only 1 African player selected in the Proteas Team for the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024 Team,” Tweeted Mbalula, whose last job in government was as minister of transport, and currently serves as the Secretary-General of the ANC.

“Definitely a reversal of the gains of transformation and doesn’t reflect fair representation of all South Africans in the national cricket team.”