Cape Town - In a recently published book about the All Blacks, their coach Steven Hansen is quoted as questioning transformation in South African rugby.
Hansen made the comment during an interview with rugby journalist Peter Bills for his recently published book, The Jersey: The Secrets Behind the World’s Most Successful Team.
Hansen was commenting in 2017 when he was probed about the demise of the New Zealand’s Rugby Championship rivals, South Africa and Australia.
Since the addition of Argentina at the start of 2012 when the competition’s name changed from Tri-Nations to Rugby Championship, the All Blacks have won five of six editions.
“They are the only team in sport I know that doesn’t pick its best team,” Hansen is quoted as saying of the Springboks in the book.
The Springboks have a mandate of picking a team made up of 50% players of colour for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Hansen added: “I understand what they are trying to do but... Nelson Mandela understood it better than anyone else. He knew that the Springboks was a team that could unite the nation. I still believe it is. If they got things right and allowed it to develop naturally, it would. And you would get the right people in the team. In the end, it would be a multi-cultural team.”
Hansen added that for a coach to not be allowed to pick his best team “goes against the principles of sport”.
“Rugby wasn’t a black man’s sport, but it was the sport that would unify the country in a way that no other sport or business could. Now I think that unity isn’t there so much. As a nation, it has got such a lively history and it has created a whole lot of things we will never understand, because we were never part of it.
“There is a lot of ill-feeling. But the thing they don’t want to fall into is actually reversing that. That is a pretty political statement but when you look at the rugby, one of my great mates, Heyneke Meyer, found out that having to select a team based on what colour a man’s skin is, goes against all the principles and spirit of sport. What it does is create a situation where 1) you are not picking the best team and 2) the guys that get picked are thinking, 'Am I here because of the reasons of quota or because I am good enough?'"