Cape Town - Former Springbok wing Tonderai Chavhanga is saddened that transformation in South African rugby is often viewed in a negative light.
The four-Test capped winger who scored six tries on his international debut against Uruguay in 2005, spoke exclusively to Sport24 and shared his views on what he calls "a touchy topic".
“It’s really sad to see the level of negativity associated to it (transformation). It has often been used to cause further division among people as opposed to being harnessed positively. In South Africa we talk about transformation so much and there are many negative connotations associated. No player wants to be selected based on skin colour,” Chavhanga said.
“You want to be selected because you are the best and all players want to be treated equally. Unfortunately, even for those players of colour selected there will always be the quota tag hanging over their heads.”
According to Chavhanga, players of colour constantly have to prove themselves as being worthy of playing at the top.
“There is so much pressure put on players of colour. Elton Jantjies, for argument’s sake, has played phenomenally well over the last year in particular, but it seems as though he has to prove himself every single weekend. I know it’s Super Rugby and Test Rugby, however, I feel players of colour constantly have to prove themselves worthy of their places and that’s really unfair.
“I really feel for players of colour when they have a bad game because they are held to a totally different standard. A number of talented players of colour have been lost in the system and haven’t gone all the way to the top. I’m not suggesting the players should be babied, but they have to be given every opportunity to succeed, and we must close the gap between Craven Week and U/19 and U/21 levels.”
Chavhanga, 33, said he was proud to be a black Springbok.
“The most important message that comes with being a black Springbok is that it reinforces the notion that rugby is for everyone. With each black Springbok that is selected and seen thriving in the green and gold jersey, thousands of black kids are inspired to take up the sport whether for fun or with the hope of one day also representing South Africa. For me, the message of inspiration and raising hope is most important. Playing for the Springboks was akin to climbing Mount Everest owing to where I came from. It was an incredible honour to have worn the Bok jersey.”