Cape Town – Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer seems poised to slightly
eclipse his predecessor Peter de Villiers, recently vocal on
transformation-related issues, for selection of black players to his RWC 2015
The incumbent, Sport24 has reliably learnt, will almost
certainly include nine players of colour in his 31-strong party to be named on
Friday evening in Durban.
That will take him to just about the 30 percent “target” he
has apparently been set in order to fulfil transformation requirements for the
Bok onslaught on the global event.
It is believed those players will be props Trevor Nyakane
and Tendai Mtawarira, loose forward Siya Kolisi, wings Bryan Habana, Lwazi
Mvovo and JP Pietersen, centre Damian de Allende, fullback Zane Kirchner and
scrumhalf Rudy Paige.
The last-named player will be the only uncapped Bok in the
party, and something of a surprise pick as he will nudge out the expected
third-choice (after Fourie du Preez and Ruan Pienaar) at No 9, Cobus Reinach of
But Bulls halfback Paige, 26, has been part of the broad Bok
training group in recent weeks and is a decent tactical player – the nippy
Reinach is more mercurial in his playing style -- who excelled during Super
Rugby earlier this year.
De Allende was the focus of a slightly distasteful
hullabaloo in Afrikaans newspaper Rapport
recently, when his father insisted they were white but Tony Ehrenreich,
Western Cape secretary of Cosatu, reportedly altered an earlier view to
pronounce: “He is coloured, one of our people.”
Sport24 understands that the promising Stormers-based midfielder
is considered a player of colour for SARU purposes, as things stand.
Under such circumstances, and if our forecast proves correct
as anticipated, Meyer will beat by one the tally of black players De Villiers
picked (eight) for his assault on RWC 2011, which was also his swansong event as
national coach. The Boks bowed out at the quarter-finals.
De Villiers, the Boks’ first coach of colour, was criticised
from various sectors at the time: one lobby suggested he kept too much faith in
stalwarts who had won the cup under Jake White’s tenure in 2007, whilst another
lamented that he could have done more in pursuing wider selection of players of
His black players in 2011 were: Habana, Pietersen, Gio
Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Odwa Ndungane, Mtawarira, Gurthro Steenkamp and Chiliboy
Not only is Meyer very likely to go one player more on the
transformation front in his Friday announcement, but he and his co-selectors
will also be hiking the tally of black African representation from three in
2011 to four this time – Zimbabwe-born Mtawarira, plus Nyakane, Kolisi and
If that is the case, some irony will be detected by certain
observers: De Villiers has recently castigated Meyer for alleged preference to
When the incumbent omitted Cornal Hendricks (believed not to
be going to the World Cup) for the Durban Test against Argentina in order to
switch Jesse Kriel from outside centre to right wing, De Villiers accused Meyer
of “taking the country back to the late Eighties”.
De Villiers was reportedly guest speaker in Mossel Bay
recently where a new movement was formed to push for more vigorous
transformation in rugby, and a Bok jersey was burned.
SARU has a five-year transformation plan, begun last year,
in place to try to ensure 50 percent black representation in the national side
by 2019, so there is probably still going to be a 20 percent shortfall in terms
of that quest when the Boks go into RWC 2015.
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