South African Rugby Union: Transformation Plan progress report; Southern Kings inclusion in Rugby Super 15

Sports, Arts and Culture

23 May 2012
Chairperson: Mr M Mdakane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson noted that the Committee always expected all presenters to address issues allied to development, transformation, leadership and good governance in sport. He pointed out that sporting development provided a means to addressing some of the social ills confronting the nation.

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) briefed the Committee on the implementation of its transformation plans, pointing out that rugby had been unified in 2002 and professionalised in 1995. SARU outlined that it had managed to develop ten Springbok players in the last five years, as well as appointing black coaches, creating a sustainable
women’s rugby programme and growing the fan base.  In this financial year, SARU would focus on community mass participation development programmes, coaching development, strategic investment in unions, administration, talent identification and elite player development. The plans would be implemented at a total cost of R72 million. Significant progress had been made in implementing the transformation plans, particularly in black schools that had formerly played rugby, but a number of challenges still presented themselves in relation to rural schools. The strategic plans took account of demographic representation, access to the game, skills and capacity building, employment equity, preferential procurement, performance and community development. It was noted that in the Junior Level, of players under-11 to under-19, 188 441 of the total of 332 689 players were black. The various scorecards, and how they would be assessed, were set out. At schools level, there was 57% to 43% white representation, and at club level the ratios were 69% black to 30% white representation. Surveys were under way to establish the number of rugby schools, facilities and rugby clubs. It was noted that there was better black representation in Springbok teams than in any other professional form of the game, except for the Vodacom Cup.  The Springboks were developed in the school structures, and this accounted for the biased focus towards school rugby structures. At least 40 community schools had been identified for spending of about R5 million on developing players, and details were presented of the specific programmes to be followed, as well as further sponsorship of education. National Lotteries funding would be used to implement four regional academies in Boland, Border, Eastern Provincial and South Eastern districts. SARU had taken a decision to include the Southern Kings in the Super Rugby League, with the agreement of all unions, and a decision would be taken in July about the other five franchises. This move was specifically addressed at transformation and improving the chances of players for selection to national teams. 

Some Members felt that the presentation showed improvements, but others criticised the lack of detail, specifically around time lines and actual plans, and also noted that there was no detail on the spending to date that was intended to promote transformation. They were worried that there was still not enough being done in the rural areas, and wondered how the sport would be promoted in schools where teachers had not themselves played the sport. They noted that gender representation had to be addressed in SARU and wondered about the shortage of black administrators. They questioned the funding of the academies, noted that there were other challenges such as costs of transport and equipment, and wondered what was being done about facilities. Members urged that the constitutions of independent unions should be aligned with the national priorities and legislation.

Meeting report

South African Rugby Union: Transformation Plan progress report
Opening remarks

The Chairperson welcomed the South African Rugby Union (SARU) delegation and explained that this meeting was held for the purposes of engaging with SARU on issues of transformation, governance and development as well as challenges associated with the achievement of the objectives. He noted that all presenters should always speak to these issues, since development of sport was a means to addressing some of the social ills confronting the nation.

He also reminded the delegation that presenters were required to submit their presentations seven day prior to appearing before the Committee, to give members ample time to familiarise themselves with the content, and prepare for an informed engagement.

Mr Oregon Hoskins, President, SARU, appreciated the opportunity to engage and to be advised of the thinking of the political leadership around sport. Rugby was important because it promoted reconciliation, nation building and helped in addressing the legacy of apartheid. He apologised for failing to submit the presentation in time, explaining that SARU’s senior leadership had been preoccupied with international meetings and the Southern Kings issue. He summarised that in this year the English team would be visiting to play three test matches. Members of the Committee were invited to attend some of the matches that would take place in June.

Mr Marvin Green, General Manager: Development, SARU, noted that SARU had a transformation implementation plan. SARU was perceived as not being representative, but there were a number of tangible positives since 2002. Over a period of five years it had managed to develop ten Springbok players, from the vigorous programme under the auspices of Spoornet. SARU was proud that South Africa had also won two World Cups. The Springboks had grown their fan base. Over the years, about 51 Springboks had been created, black coaches had been appointed, and a sustainable women’s rugby programme had been created to groom women into professional rugby players.

SARU had also drafted a strategic draft implementation plan, taking into consideration the National Sport and Recreation Plan, the Transformation Charter and scorecard system. The plan detailed core objectives in its development programmes, including mass participation, school support programmes, capacity building, talent identification and confirmation of talent. The development strategies were aligned with the Minister’s sporting plan strategic objectives.

The Strategic Implementation Plan took seven dimensions into account. These were demographic representation, access to the game, skills and capacity building, employment equity, preferential procurement, performance and community development. Page 10 showed the demographic representation of SARU players at junior level (U11 to U19) and how they were spread around the country. Of the 332 689 players, 188 411 were blacks and 144 278 were white. He explained that SARU would be measured on a number of scorecards, which were:
- the i
ncreased number of black players who  participated in provincial, national and international competitions
- increased number of black executives and administrators at all levels in all the provinces
- increased number of black players at school and club level
- increased number of black people involved in associations, such as coaches, referees, sports science and technology.

Mr Green noted that at school level, there was now 57% black to 43% white representation. At club level, there was 69% black and 30% white representation. About 80% of the players were situated in the Western and Eastern Cape, which housed the best and quality clubs.

Slide 14 displayed a map showing representation of rugby across
all 52 districts. A proper scientific survey was under way, undertaken by the Minister of Science and Technology, and the University of Cape Town, which sought to establish the number of rugby schools, facilities and rugby clubs.

Mr Green then noted that SARU would be measured on its performance in increasing access to the game, by investigating:
- the number of schools and clubs participating
- the number of trained coaches and referees
- the number of volunteers trained to deliver school programmes
- the number of rugby facilities in disadvantaged areas
- sustainable active events and programmes
- SARU’s presence within the geo-political boundaries, in order to gain access to government resources.

He noted that a plan would be developed and submitted to government on how SARU, working together with private players, could realise the objectives of the Minister’ plan.

SARU would be measured on its performance related to skills and capability development, using indicators of:
- the number
of sustainable learnerships for coaches, referees, administrators, managers and players, as highlighted in the Minister’ speech the previous week
- the number of sustainable formal talent identification programmes implemented. (Here, he noted that programmes were already available, but needed to be enhanced to speed up processes)
- the number of talented black players, coaches, and referees produced by talent identification and structured development programmes

With regards to employment equity plan indicators would be the number of black employees in senior and middle management positions, the number of black female employees, and the number of disabled employees. All of these figures would be considered at provincial and national level. He noted that, in respect of black employees at senior levels, there was full representivity at national level, but it needed to be improved at provincial level.

Preferential procurement progress would be measured against the percentage of procurement from enterprises that were level 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Black Economic Empowerment-compliant.

Performance dimension would be measured against:
- the number of domestic competitions hosted
- the number of players participating in domestic competitions
- the number of medals won at international matches and competitions
- the improvement in the aggregated international ranking (IRB rankings).

SARU’s community development and social initiatives dimensions included:
- the number of new schools that would be introduced to the rugby game
- the number of new players
- the number of different rugby formats introduced
- the number of leagues and competitions introduced at community level
- the number of new trained volunteers as coaches and referees
- the number of new spectators.

Mr Hoskins noted that the SARU focus, in investment, would be
mainly on community mass participation development programmes, coaching development, strategic investment in unions, administration, talent identification and elite player development. It was anticipated that this would cost R72 million. He said that SARU concurred with the Minister that transformation was not about numbers only, but was essentially aimed at overcoming the legacy of apartheid which excluded blacks from participating in rugby.

Finally, Mr Hoskins noted that the U20 IRB junior rugby tournament would be held at the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Western Cape from 4 to 22  June.

Mr Jurie Roux, Chief Executive Officer, SARU, outlined that there was fair demographic representation at junior level, in the years leading up to 2012. Page 24 of the presentation showed a graph depicting growth in the number of black Springboks from 1992 to 2011. He noted that there was better black representation in Springbok teams than in any other professional form of the game, except for the Vodacom Cup.  The Springboks were developed in the school structures, and this accounted for the biased focus towards school rugby structures. The majority of the Springboks came from 1,81% of schools, mostly elite schools. Of the African Springboks, two had come from Rondebosch Boys High, two from PeterHouse, and others from Pretoria Boys High, Queens College, St Johns, Prince Edward and Springs THS. Schools were viewed as the incubators and nurseries for young talent and youth development programmes, in line with the Minister’s vision. Programmes were being developed to enhance the participation of black players, from junior level up to professional rugby positions.  At least 40 community schools had been identified for spending of about R5 million on developing players. Out of those 40 schools, there would be a further focus on 20 schools where players would be required to undertake a scientific programme and receive individual training by expert coaches around the country. The selected players would be tested every year to assess the progress and evaluate their commitment to the sport.  

About R8 million would be spent on mass participation at junior level, to introduce new schools to the sport. Teachers would receive training from the Sports Science Institute, on how to run the mobile gymnasiums, which would be provided to schools at the cost of R120 000 per gym. There would be a competitive structure to determine the best schools. National Lotteries funding would be used to implement four regional academies in Boland, Border, Eastern Provincial and South Eastern districts. Only five provinces had been targeted for the programme at the moment, although there were plans to roll it out to others in the future. Individuals who were identified also for their academic acumen would be enrolled into universities, whilst those who did not qualify for university programmes would be catered for under learnership programmes. He noted that the timeline for implementation of academy projects from April to December was listed on slide 35.

Mr B Holomisa (UDM) welcomed the fact that rugby was growing in the country but decried the fact that SARU was not visible in historically disadvantaged areas, which were mostly rural. He asked to hear specific plans to develop and identify rugby players in areas where historically the sport had not been promoted.

Mr Dikgacwi asked if the R72 million allocated to different programmes was going to be used by clubs. He wanted to know exactly how the non rugby-playing schools would be assisted to participate, and asked if the teachers and unions had been informed about the training programmes. He pointed out that many African schools had teachers who had themselves never played rugby, so he wanted to know exactly how former rugby players would be asked to assist.

Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) welcomed the presentation, and commented that it showed many improvements. However, there was no breakdown of timelines on programmes, except the academy project.

Mr Dikgacwi noted that SARU needed to address the issue of gender representation, and pointed out that the entire delegation to this Committee was comprised of males.

Mr Holomisa agreed that there was improvement in the quality of the presentation, but it still lacked detail and budget breakdown. He was concerned about the top leadership of SARU and suggested that it adopt an investment plan to develop ex-rugby players to be able to work in management positions starting at provincial level upwards.

Ms L Mjobo (ANC) asked how schools would be selected into the Top Schools project, and how rural schools were represented in SARU’s programmes.

Mr Green said reaching out to rural areas was still problematic. In the previous year, SARU had implemented the schools / clubs linkages programme through its 14 units, but 50% of them had reported that the programme was difficult to execute. SARU was not overlooking the issue, as it was part of its priority focus, and would continue with it. At the moment, much effort was being directed at enhancing the capacity of traditional black schools, where rugby was strong. However, in addition R7 million of the Mass Participation Programme funding was intended to address development of the sport in new areas, including historically disadvantaged rural communities. He said that schools were identified through SARU’s provincial structures. Black schools had been identified who delivered quality players, most of whom were playing in Super Rugby teams. The money given to the 14 provinces for the Top Schools programme was aimed at setting up school linkages, and specifically at reaching out to rural areas that lacked rugby infrastructure and transport to play competitions. He agreed that more funds needed to be directed towards those areas to achieve sustainable development, hence the need to involve Municipal districts and the government.

Mr Hoskins added that he had no definitive explanation as to why there were not so many black or female rugby administrators available. However, SARU acknowledged that weakness and would work towards rectifying it. 

Mr Holomisa responded that there were surely a number of retired black players who could be developed into administrators, firstly at provincial level and then at national level, to change the face of rugby from the top to the bottom. 

Mr. Hoskins replied that he was agreed to the fact that change in leadership was needed but it was not possible to make a great player a rugby administrator.

Mr Green noted, on the issue of administrators, that the current administrators of rugby were different to those in the apartheid era. The sport had become professional in 1995. The current team was part of that period. However, he noted that many past players would not agree to be administrators, as they earned millions of rands through other activities, and employing them as administrators would be tantamount to downgrading them.

Mr Roux added that in order to succeed in implementing the transformation agenda, it was necessary for coaches, players and all other stakeholders involved in the sport to change their attitudes and thinking towards rugby. 

Mr Holomisa said he meant to provide a possible solution that could have helped to address the issue of leadership transformation.

Mr Holomisa urged the Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA) to stop referring people who wanted rugby clubs, because this was not an area that fell into the SRSA’s jurisdiction, but was a core function of the South African
Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).

Ms G Sindane (ANC) was not in agreement with other Members that the presentation showed an improvement. She thought there were a number of grey areas. There were no exact targets and breakdown of how the R0.5 billion allegedly used for transformation since 1992 was actually spent. She noted that page 5 of the presentation, and the Employment Equity plan had no specific targets and timeframes. She felt that SARU needed to improve and present more detailed information. There were too many vague expressions, and although explanations were given on some points, they were not actually listed on the paper. In relation to investment, there was also no breakdown of targeted programmes, nor any indication of what had informed the plan.

Mr Roux assured her that SARU was not deliberately being vague; this presentation had been drawn specifically to try to meet the agenda of the day and the audience. A document had been developed detailing programmes and specific measurables, and he assured Members that these would be presented in the future. Each of the line items on the investment plan comprised a number of projects. However, for purposes of this presentation, SARU had intended to summarise the information.

Mr Roux noted that the Academy was not part of the R72 million investment. Another R25 million had been set aside for its structures. A comprehensive document had been designed on restructuring of amateur clubs and games, and this had been submitted to a Policy Committee for approval. SARU had engaged a person to look at the number of clubs, their facilities and infrastructure around the country, as well as to investigate challenges faced by its stakeholders, and all of this would inform its planning.

Mr G Mackenzie (COPE) welcomed the obviously earnest attempts by SARU to address burning issues of transformation. He noted that research in KwaZulu-Natal had shown that only 2% of school leavers went on to play rugby, or any other organised sport, after leaving school. There were other challenges, such as transport costs and equipment, and he asked how those could be bridged.
Mr Mackenzie asked if it was intended that there should be a national club system. He wondered if the academies were part of the roll out in Unions, and asked what the timeframe was for this.

Mr Roux said that facilities did not fall within SARU’s area of jurisdiction, but were the responsibility of the municipalities, but in cases where facilities were on shared grounds or private land, they were not the sole responsibility of any one party, and may be used for other sport codes. Efforts were being made to engage private companies on how best to intervene and provide assistance. The current funding was insufficient to attend to all matters.

Mr Mackenzie sought clarity on the Box Smart programme, and informed members that his union had amended its constitution to make sure that there was fair representation and transformation, whilst a number of ex-players had been involved in coaching programmes.

Mr Roux replied that the Box Smart programme was very successful, and had since become an international programme that addressed issues related to injuries and proper condition of teams. 

Ms M Dube (ANC) felt that the presentation was very general in nature, particularly pointing to slide 4. She noted that there was a bias towards schools sport, but also said there seemed to be too much of a bias to the schools that were already playing rugby, with nothing significant for rural schools. She wondered if the money given to unions was being monitored. She asked what would have been SARU’s development strategy if the Minister had not outlined his strategic plan.

Mr Roux noted that even prior to the Minister’ announcement on programmes, SARU already had its own streamlined programme for referees, as well as developing the women’s rugby structure, among other initiatives.

Mr S Mmusi (ANC) was very disappointed to hear that, even 20 years after the unification of rugby, SARU had still not transformed the rural areas, where most disadvantaged schools were situated. He pointed out that the presentation had not addressed these areas, and nothing was said about them prior to questions being asked. He urged that SARU should specifically focus on rural areas when implementing its programmes.

Mr. Roux admitted that SARU had had challenges developing the sport in rural areas but these area would be prioritised in the future.

Mr Mmusi asked when it was intended to align the constitutions of independent unions with the National Constitution of South Africa and the sports legislation. He felt that SARU’s plans were very vague and failed to measure specifically whether transformation was actually taking place, and this made it difficult to hold unions accountable.

Mr Roux said rugby clubs were previously autonomous, but SARU was taking more responsibility in trying to reorganise them.

The Chairperson noted that there were still challenges. He urged that development and transformation needed to be pursued vigorously, and efficient and capable leadership of rugby had to assist the Committee in meeting its objectives. He thought there was a need for further engagement on the matter. The independent unions were supposed to assist in transforming rugby, and it was important not only to design good plans, but also to ensure their implementation and success.

Mr Dikgacwi wanted to know why the Vodacom league in KwaZulu Natal had been more successful in transformation than in other provinces. It was difficult for SARU to intervene in provinces because the union’s constitution prevented this.

Mr T Lee (DA) wanted to know if SARU could intervene to solve the decision taken by the Border Union that any player contracted out of the province would not be allowed to participate in the Border Craven team. 

Mr Hoskins informed the Committee that SARU had taken a decision to include the Southern Kings in the Super Rugby League. All unions had agreed to that and a decision would be made in July about the fate of the other five franchises. The reason why Southern Kings had been included was to address transformation and boost chances of players from the Eastern Cape to be selected to play for the best national teams.

Mr Dikgacwi asked which company had been awarded the contract for supply chain.

Mr Roux said proper steps were followed in accrediting the suppliers

Mr Lee thought it did not matter which teams were to be selected to represent the country, as long as they were among the best.

Mr Roux agreed that the best team had to play, and said the unions were chosen on the basis of the competition, structure and sponsorship at a particular time.

Mr Lee wanted to know if the conflict between Border, EP and Southern districts had been resolved.

Mr Roux said it had been attended to. It was agreed that the EP Union would be the chief partner, whilst the others would be subordinates.

The Chairperson encouraged members to visit Unions during oversight, so that they could become better informed about the sport.

The meeting was adjourned.


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