New Springbok coach has free reign, but...

2015-12-04 17:49
Oregan Hoskins (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Whoever the next Springbok coach is will enter the job knowing that making strides in transformation is his - or her - primary mandate. 

Anything less than winning a Rugby World Cup is considered a failure by the South African Rugby Union (SARU), but the implication from president Oregan Hoskins on Friday was that performance will fall behind transformation on South African rugby's list of priorities over the next four years. 

"Whoever wants to apply for the job needs to know that transformation is going to be on top of his agenda, or else he shouldn’t apply," Hoskins said.

"We as an organisation are going to have to be much, much harder than we’ve ever been. We don’t have another opportunity. We’ve signed an agreement with the sports governing body in the country (SASCOC) and the ministry and we believe in it. So as a sport we need to go forward with that in mind."

The agreement that Hoskins was speaking of states that the Springboks will have 50/50 player representation by 2019. 

Transformation is an area where outgoing coach Heyneke Meyer failed to win over his critics, and that is something that Hoskins and SARU are not prepared to let happen again. 

But, at what point does administrative interference become too much? It is, after all, the coach who is tasked with selecting the side most capable of winning matches. 

"You will recall that when Peter de Villiers became the coach, SARU had taken a decision that the president and the leadership should not interfere with selection," said Hoskins.

"That’s still the policy at the moment. It’s always been a case of the coach selecting the team and we haven’t changed that policy. We might have to look at it going forward but that wasn’t the case for the last two coaches."

According to Hoskins, Meyer was fully aware of the transformation policies and ambitions of SARU. 

"When you’re an administrator you’re asked to administer the game and you appoint coaches to select a team, and you put your faith in those coaches," he said.

"In terms of best practice, I think that is the right thing to do. Sometimes I do, as president of SARU, I stand back, and I question the fact that more players of colour should have played.

"That’s my own experience as a South African, so I’m not disaffected by what happens. I come from a background where I want to see that happening more and more, but there is a thin line between interfering in the team because of the moral imperative that we require more transformation... where do I draw the line in terms of interference?

"You find that, as an administrator, you might play the player of colour over the white player. But then it’ll probably go into ‘I prefer this flyhalf to that flyhalf’, and it doesn’t end. So I might as well be the president/coach/selector ... and I don’t think that’s going to happen."

So, it appears that the next coach will still have free reign to select the side that he wants. As long as it's not the wrong one. 

"It is an important issue, it was important when we signed that agreement with SASCOC and with government, and we have a duty to stick to our side of the agreement," said Hoskins. 

SARU is set to meet on December 11 where they will map out the process of appointing the new Springbok coach.

Read more on:    springboks  |  saru  |  oregan hoskins  |  rugby

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