Lack of transformation forces Mbalula’s hand, scuppers RWC 2023. Who’s to blame?

Transformation is always a sensitive subject but one has to question who’s to blame if things don’t change. And how long is long enough for real transformation? Sports minister Fikile Mbalula has banned national cricket and rugby federations from hosting or bidding international tournaments for at least a year. This has devastating effects on the rugby fraternity as the bidding process starts next month for the 2023 World Cup. And the news comes only a few days after ANC MPs called for the Springbok to be removed. But will such a move drive transformation? Surely by cutting off the dragon’s head, you take away any form of inspiration for the youth. Hosting the 1995 World Cup did more for rugby than any other initiative. Surely the problem lies at the feet of the beast, the grassroots. And one thing’s for sure, one cannot work without the other. And maybe it’s time Mbalula did some soul searching and put the brain’s trust towards a solution to the problem at grassroots, because there’s nothing more inhibiting than putting someone who’s not ready for international competition. And let’s not take anything away from those who produced at the highest level. It’s also not the best start for Springbok coach Allister Coetzee’s reign. Let’s hope sense prevails and South Africa can put its hat into the ring for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. – Stuart Lowman

From Reuters

JOHANNESBURG, April 25 – South Africa on Monday banned its national cricket and rugby federations from hosting or bidding for international tournaments for at least a year due to their failure to increase representation of black players.

Sports minister Fikile Mbalula said the athletics and netball federations were also barred from bidding to stage global events after a report showed that four out of the five biggest sports have failed to create enough opportunities for black players.

The minister’s decision was a major blow to the South African Rugby Union’s intention to bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The bidding process starts next month.

Allister Coetzee looks on after being unveiled as the South Africa Springboks' new rugby coach in Randburg, outside Johannesburg, April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Allister Coetzee looks on after being unveiled as the South Africa Springboks’ new rugby coach in Randburg, outside Johannesburg, April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

South Africa’s government has been pushing for more black players to be included in the nation’s most popular sports but more than two decades after the end of apartheid whites still make up the bulk of players in athletics, cricket, netball and rugby.

Read also: Graeme Joffe: “Gupta appointed” Mbalula silent on rugby, part of the problem

“I have therefore resolved to revoke the privilege of Athletics South Africa (ASA), Cricket South Africa (CSA), Netball South Africa (NSA) and South African rugby (SARU) to host and bid for major and mega international tournaments,” Mbalula said in a statement.

The soccer federation was the only one of the five to meet its transformation targets, he said.

Mbalula said he would review the decision when considering the results on the 2016-17 ‘Transformation Barometer’, which could be at the end of next year.

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