Malotana holds the distinction of being the first black player selected to
represent the Springboks in the professional era.
He debuted for South Africa
during the pool stages of the 1999 World Cup against Spain at Murrayfield. As
fate would have it, that day - October 10 - would prove to be the first and
last time he would play for the men in green and gold.
the first black Springbok was a massive responsibility because I knew it wasn’t
just about me. There were so many people who fought behind
the scenes to make it happen,” he told Sport24 exclusively.
“To be the first
player of colour to get the chance was special because in that moment, I saw
all the black people’s hard labour finally come to fruition.”
forward 16 years, and the former centre now serves as director of coaching at
Alberton Rugby Club. Malotana readily admits that his primary focus is to
fast-track talented players of colour and he bemoans the double standards that
are still rife within South African rugby.
day one, when we started rolling out the transformation process, I would have
put more pressure on the school system to ensure that children are afforded
school teams are given the leeway to choose (the racial make-up) at their own discretion
and if you don’t police people, the reality is that they will always take the
easy way out. Black representation has consequently fallen by the wayside. Coming
out of school, there should be a standardised contracting system that is
enforced by the mother body, Saru, so that players of colour don’t feel as
though they are being treated differently.”
Malotana maintains that head coach Nick Mallett trusted the four players of
colour in his 1999 World Cup squad - himself, Breyton Paulse, Wayne Julies and
Deon Kayser - the fact of the matter is that only the latter was selected to
face the Wallabies in the semi-final.
turn, incumbent coach Heyneke Meyer has failed to back black players in big
we’re not inside the Springbok environment, the worst case scenario is that
Meyer doesn’t have a relationship with the players of colour in his team and doesn’t
care to talk to them and explain his thinking in terms of selection. It then
leaves players to make up their own assumptions and conclude that they are being
overlooked on the basis of skin colour.”
target for 2019 is for representation of Springbok, Springbok Sevens, Super
Rugby and Currie Cup teams to be 50% white, 30% black and 20% coloured. Is that
a realistic objective?
“The problem with doing things when under pressure is that you set
unrealistic targets. 50% black and coloured representation is setting everybody
up for failure because not enough players of colour are being selected in Super
Rugby. People will turn around and say, these black players have compromised
the quality of the Springbok team.”
believes that the bulk of professional coaches in South Africa are trying to
meet the minimum requirements in terms of transformation targets, which is
setting the system back.
“If you have unions only fielding three black players
in the starting line-up and two on the bench, where are the numbers going to
come from to meet the 50 % mark?” he asks, in an exasperated tone.
“There is a level
of frustration more than anything else and, to be honest, we feel insulted when
things seem to be so blatant in the way they’re being done.”
is a talented mentor with a wealth of knowledge to impart having played at the
highest level. After successive knee injuries curtailed his professional
playing career, he ploughed his passion for rugby into coaching. The
39-year-old is enjoying his role at club level, but makes no bones about chasing
“I’m gaining experience at club level, but I have aspirations
to climb as high as I possibly can on the coaching ladder. In the future, I
believe we are going to see more coaches of colour coming through the ranks but,
at the moment, the fact is there are limited opportunities for black coaches in
speaking, if Malotana was appointed Springbok coach tomorrow, which players of
colour would be the first names on his team-sheet?
“Elton Jantjies lit up Super
Rugby in terms of the way he attacked. As much as many coaches believe rugby
matches are won purely on defence, it’s also about keeping the ball in hand and
cracking defensive lines.
would certainly give Elton a shot at flyhalf and see how he goes. I would also
select Lionel Mapoe at outside centre. He was the in-form No 13 throughout Super
Rugby. Lwazi Mvovo showed against Argentina this past Saturday he
deserves to be in the team on merit. He was outstanding on the wing and is precisely
the type of finisher the Boks need.”
Ntubeni has been released by the Springboks to play in the Currie Cup, but
Malotana is opposed to the idea.
“Scarra deserves a look-in at national level
because he is a very consistent player and maintains an average of 90%
performance in each and every match.”
Roger De Sa
Hennie le Roux
Peter de Villiers
Braam van Straaten
Carel du Plessis
Joe van Niekerk
John MitchellDavid Campese