Cape Town - A renowned New Zealand scribe fears that transformation in rugby will weaken the South African game to such an extent that SA teams will be unable to compete with the Kiwis.
CLICK HERE to read Mark Reason's full column on the Stuff.co.nz website
This comes after South Africa's sports minister Fikile Mbalula barred major sporting federations from bidding to host major international sporting events.
SA Rugby, as well as Cricket South Africa, Netball SA and Athletics South Africa, had revoked their privilege of “hosting and bidding for major and mega international tournaments in South Africa as a consequence of... not meeting their own set transformation targets,” said Mbalula.
The decision would be reconsidered at the next reporting of the Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) report, which is expected in November.
The All Blacks are dominating their rivalry with the Springboks and New Zealand teams are bossing Super Rugby, but according to Mark Reason, a columnist for the Stuff.co.nz website, New Zealand rugby needs South Africa to be strong.
“South African rugby is at breaking point,” Reason wrote.
“The sports minister has threatened its international future. The best South African team finished a pitiful and humiliating seventh on last year's Super ladder. Most of the top players are in France and many of the astonishingly loyal fans are starting to wish they could join them. Most of New Zealand might not care right now, they might be gloating at the success of all their teams, but the NZR is terrified the bank may close its doors on them.”
Reason explained why it’s essential for New Zealand rugby that South Africa remains strong.
“If South Africa goes down the gurgler, New Zealand wages will be slashed. South Africa underwrites the television money from Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship. They supply the population and the audiences. New Zealand needs South Africa to be strong. Ever since the game went professional South Africa has sponsored New Zealand rugby.
“Unfortunately I believe the South African government doesn't give a stuff about rugby. It only cares about how many black people are in the team. They call it transformation.”
At present, Reason feels transformation is not making SA Rugby stronger and he does not see a change in fortunes for future Springbok teams when competing against the All Blacks.
“Transformation is happening, but it is the transformation of South African rugby into a second-rate sport. Unless the government puts rugby into more state schools, there will be no transformation. Football will remain the majority sport for black kids, and is there really anything wrong with that?
“The government shows no desire to transform its schools. It would cost too much. And so it passes the buck and New Zealand wins again on the pitch. Off the pitch there are not so many bucks left to pass. If South African rugby takes a bath, New Zealand rugby goes under, too.”