Cape Town—South African rugby is facing a total transformation in the next decade in which the sport will get rid of its “white face” and adjust its composition on all levels to South Africa’s demographic profile.
The transformation will take place in accordance with a charter for transformation with targets and scorecards with weights for certain elements with which changes to rugby “on and off the field” can be measured.
Teams from Under-13 to national level must comply with demographic representation (with a weight of 65%), which is by far the most important “transformation dimension”.
An independent body will measure rugby institutions’ progress with an annual audit. Lack of progress will be punished and accomplishment rewarded.
SA Rugby said in a presentation to parliament that the demographic profile of administrators, referees, coaches and even supporters would have to change to prevent rugby from being overtaken by “culture realities” in the next decade and die out.
A second and final chance
Sponsors would have to re-think their approach.
SA Rugby CEO Johan Prinsloo and his deputy, Mvuleli Ncula, led the presentation to parliament’s portfolio committee on sport and recreation.
Sport administrator, Willie Basson, provided research information to the committee from which SA Rugby’s charter for transformation “subject to a value system” originated.
The team said the charter offered South African rugby “after 10 years without progress” a second and final chance for survival, regardless of the fact that accelerated transformation posed a high risk.”
The charter, which took 500 hours and 20 editions was mostly greeted with enthusiasm by 13 of the 14 provincial rugby unions where it was presented.
Made rugby bosses sit up
The team said that especially strategic realities, after moral reasons for the charter, made the provincial rugby bosses sit up.
They were surprised when they heard the true facts about rugby’s demographic profile and especially the increase among black players.
SA Rugby’s figures indicated that the country had about the same number of black as white senior rugby players, but more black than white juniors.
Of the 10 million rugby supporters, more were black than white, although blacks mostly watched rugby at home or at shebeens.
The popularity of rugby as school sport was declining, while basketball, volleyball and tennis were increasing.
Soccer remained the most=popular sport among most South Africans, while cricket was now more popular than rugby among all South Africans.
Blue Bulls used as an example
The growth base for rugby was in the Western Cape (especially Cape Town and surrounding areas) and the Northern and Eastern Cape.
Basson said “demography” was the gold mine that should be mined for South African rugby for the future of the game. Unfortunately sport bosses opposed change the most.
An example was that Blue Bull supporters, who did not see their way clear to go and watch soccer at the FNB Stadium, should realise their team would become “demographically representative” somewhere in the future.
“The question was posed if they would support a team comprising 80% black players.”
Prinsloo described the decline in schools rugby and opposition to change among some rugby bosses as stumbling blocks.
Promised government support
Access to sporting facilities (with a weight of 10%), work equity (10%), development of expertise (5%), tender preference (5%) and community development (5%) were other elements on the transformation score card.
The portfolio committee promised the government’s support for the transformation of rugby at the request of SA Rugby.
SA Rugby’s presidents’ council and board of directors would soon ratify the charter. It would stay in force until the end of 2014. SA Rugby wanted the presidents of the provincial unions to accept responsibility for the enforcement of the charter.