Johannesburg - Civil rights organisation AfriForum has warned the South African Rugby Union (SARU) in a letter that its decision to implement racial quotas in the Vodacom Cup series next year would constitute a violation of the International Rugby Board's prohibition on any form of racial discrimination.
SARU was also informed in the letter that the Olympic Charter, with which rugby has to comply as Olympic sport, explicitly prohibits racial discrimination.
According to Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, it is not in the interest of South African rugby, players or the supporters of the sport that SARU adopted a policy which may lead to disciplinary action by the IRB.
"AfriForum is doing everything in its power to convince SARU to comply with the rules of the IRB and abandon the quota system."
In terms of By-Law 3 of the IRB rules and regulations, the IRB is compelled to prevent any form of racial discrimination in rugby.
IRB Regulation 20 also stipulates that any action which may be construed as racial discrimination will be regarded as misconduct.
In terms of By-Law 7, not only SARU is subject to the above; the provincial rugby unions resorting under SARU must adhere to these principles as well. In terms of By-Law 9.4(r) the IRB may institute disciplinary steps against any rugby body that violates these rules.
Kriel has pointed out that AfriForum supports rugby development, and wants everyone to have the opportunity to participate in the sport.
"A quota system, however, does nothing to develop new players. Institutions simply import existing black players in order to comply with the quota requirements.
Rugby unions should focus on development programmes instead of discriminating against certain players on the basis of race," Kriel said.
Kriel alleged that a quota system based on race disadvantages black players to the same extent as their white peers, because the validity of their inclusion in teams is questioned. Instead of playing the numbers game in a top-down manipulation of the sport, SARU and the Government should address their own failure to develop young black talent at school level.