The Springbok Women’s Sevens team finished
the recent Brazil Sevens World Series in last place following their five losses which
saw them concede 152 points and score just 49.
The losses against Fiji, China, England and
Canada were bad enough, but taking 40 against Russia on the first day was
This after their XV-a-side counterparts registered
just the single victory in their World Cup campaign in August last year. A
result that saw them come 10th in tournament – the same result they recorded in
the 2010 World Cup.
“But despite their brave efforts … “ is the
phrase most often used by the poor SARU communication team tasked with putting
a positive spin on this debacle in the post-match press releases. Why? Because
it would be incredibly politically incorrect to do anything else.
Given the need to accommodate so many
creeds and colours in a country with a morally chequered past when it comes to
dealing with fellow humans, our Rainbow Nation constitution is now deemed to be
one of the more progressive in the world. The Politically Correctness of it,
though, now sees us treading on eggshells when we should be calling a spade a
Minister of sport Fikile Mbalula was happy
to call Bafana Bafana a “Bunch of losers” after they crashed out of AFCON last
year, yet complete crickets on the car crash in slow motion that is woman’s
rugby in South Africa?
Well, I am prepared to take that slap or
drink in the face when I next walk into a bar. Why? Because like in my column
on amateur representative teams last year, this is another example of the dead wood
we are carrying in SA rugby. And given our lack of resources, we simply cannot
afford to carry it. It’s time to make some tough calls and get truly
Ireland, for example, have chosen not to dabble
with a men’s sevens side so they can focus all their limited resources on the
15 a side team. A tough call no doubt, but a call made in order to be the best
they can in on endeavour rather be average at many.
In South Africa we are blessed with
incredible player talent and can thus afford to have the Blitzbokke strut their
stuff on the Sevens series. But even top contracted Sevens players earn less
than some run of the mill 15 a side players. That is just a reality of the
relative pulling power of the codes.
Yet we seem happy to waste seriously
limited financial resources (especially given that we try and play in a global
market with a third world currency in free fall) on both a Woman's 7's and 15's
How many of the avalanche of players
leaving our shores, especially the younger ones like CJ Stander, Jacques du
Plessis and Steven Kitshoff, could we have kept in SA with the money wasted on
this seemingly hopeless cause?
In closing, even if just to temper the
severity of the guaranteed slap, I am by no means of the imagination suggesting
the ditching of all woman’s rugby. It needs to be driven from the bottom up
though, with provincial unions investing in amateur club structures should they
see fit. Then amateur provincial structures if deemed worthy by the unions, and
when it looks like enough energy, talent and conditioning has
been unearthed via amateur arms (as that shows a true passion and will), then
think about a national side.
It simply cannot be something that SARU
wastes time, money and energy on. They have bigger fish to fry.
Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt.
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