Super 14 Strategies to Develop Rugby in Previously Disadvantaged Communities

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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


11 June 2007

Chairperson: Mr B Komphela (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Blue Bulls presentation by Barend van Graan
Free State Cheetahs presentation by Harold Verster
Golden Lions presentation by Jannie Ferreira
Statement by MP Bantu Holomisa (UDM)

Relevant document: News article from (see Appendix)

Audio Recording of the Meeting


The Chair, although proud of the performance of the South African rugby teams in the Super 14, believed strides had to be taken in order to successfully manage the transformation process. He said that national selectors were under pressure to name a Springbok squad that properly represented the demographics of South Africa, but unfortunately not enough black players were in the provincial teams.

The development of black rugby players and clubs and the voting balance of power within rugby constitutions was the recurrent theme. Several members were concerned about the fact that although a number of black players were named, few of them were actually seen playing on the field. The Chair warned the provincial and Super 14 teams that if a development program was not drawn up and implemented, they were to be taxed 45%, according to the amended National Sports and Recreation Act that would come into effect soon.

Only three of the five Super 14 franchises were able to present due to time constraints. The Blue Bulls, the Golden Lions and the Free State Cheetahs presented their three-year plans as well their progress with transformation. All three unions admitted that not enough was being done to enforce the transformation agenda. However all had asked for assistance in attainment of this goal. The Committee plans to visit all five franchises on the ground.


Introductory Comments by Committee Chairperson
The Chair welcomed everyone and congratulated the Blue Bulls representatives on their victory and on the fact that they are the current Super 14 champions. The leadership of the Bulls had done them proud, however more needed to be done in terms of transformation. The Transformation Charter was a very good document. The extent to which it would bes implemented, however, was another issue. He urged the rugby leadership to make every effort to implement the guidelines set by the Charter. The Charter instructed the national team to choose players from the provincial teams, which included the Super 14 teams. However national selectors had a problem as there were no or few black players in the Super 14 from which to select. It was then decided that serious intervention was required to improve the status of black players in provincial rugby.

He said that there were a few issues that each union was required to respond to. One of them would be what approach were unions using to develop players from disadvantaged communities. A development program had to be drawn up and implemented. The new law would come into effect soon and the unions would then be taxed 45% for lack of development plans. Incentives would be given to those teams and unions who were more proactive in dealing with issues of development.

Another issue would be about the progress that had been made over the last three years to develop black rugby. In the previous three World Cups, each of the rugby presidents had stated that they would not be able to go to the World Cup with a non-racial team. Transformation should take place at all levels. Provincial rugby unions regularly apply for funds from the Lotto and yet development programs are not being seen. It was important to mention that all the previous rugby bosses had made promises regarding transformation and thus far, none of them had been able to perform.

President of South African Rugby Union remarks
Mr Oregan Hoskins noted that rugby continued to be a high priority in the affairs of the country. The administration had endeavoured to do the best that they can. He appreciated the opportunity to speak to the Committee and the support that was given to them. He concluded that the rugby franchises and provinces would like to discuss the current situation regarding transformation, their concerns and their plans. A one-on-one inspection of each province was expected.

Blue Bulls presentation
Mr Barend van Graan (Acting CEO) gave statistics, which illustrated the number of black players at each level of rugby that they represent. The spectatorship only saw a minority of blacks and that was due to the ticket prices, which was an issue they were working on. They had started programmes, which develop their players from a young age. They had hostels at Loftus Versveld, which provided accommodation to players. Because of the growth in the Super 14, their international fan base had grown as well and the Blue Bulls were shedding the label of being an Afrikaner-based brand. They had a few sells-outs at Loftus Versveld where two of those were major soccer games. They had managed to change the way many black people see the game of rugby.

The board had sent the message that when the Portfolio Committee come to Pretoria they would receive a detailed plan for the next three years. Resources would be made available to improve facilities.

Mr Johan Schoeman (General Manager: Blue Bulls Rugby Union: Amateur Side) stated that they covered a vast geographical area, which overlapped two provinces that had lots of traditional rural areas. South African Rugby had a transformation charter which guided the Bulls. Their Strategy Plan was initiated in 2001 and was managed to last for five years. They were aware of flaws in the plan, not least, of which were the lack of players of colour. There had been an increase in senior club teams, improvement of facilities with the help of Lotto, development of women’s rugby and training of coaches and capacity building projects. There was emphasis placed on Tshwane inner city projects which had been targeted to play rugby. The reestablishment of rugby in schools was part of the development plan. Player projects had been initiated in the so-called disadvantaged communities. They were currently in the process of transforming rugby and it had been a difficult task, however, the Transformation Charter had been introduced and workshops had been facilitated. The targets that had been set will be made available to the Committee. They realised that the demographic fields had to be levelled. The game had to be cultivated in the disadvantaged communities these included major capacity building and life skills projects. Currently there were 4000 schools in the Limpopo region not playing rugby.

He said that Bulls could not undertake the project alone. They were dependent on the government and local sports councils for assistance. He concluded that the challenge was to successfully manage the transformation process in the Blue Bulls provinces.

Mr C Frolick (ANC) requested that Mr van Graan unpack the statement that the fifth franchise was responsible for losing black players. There were an abundance of talented black rugby players at events such as Craven Week and so forth, and the recruiters would be seen cherry picking talent for a fraction of money they would usually spend. It was said that these players were merely used as token players.

Mr van Graan replied that they had previously tried buying players from other provinces because of the lack of black players from their own region.

Mr Frolick asked if they were where they wanted to be.

Mr van Graan pledged his personal support of the new South Africa. They would like to have a non-racial team representing the demographics of South Africa.

Mr Frolick noted that the presentation that the provinces had made on the 29 May 2006 was exactly the same as the one made on 12 June 2007. The presenters should not repeat their presentations. He asked what had happened in terms of transformation since May 2006 to June 2007.

Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) wanted to know where were the black players that the Bulls were talking about. He said that Hilton Roberts and Pierre Spies were playing together, and yet one did not see Roberts playing. He did not see the point of giving black players contracts if they were not used on the field.

Mr Van Graan answered that both Roberts and Spies were employees of the Bulls Company and that both were talented. Both players were selected for the National team in 2005 and it was his opinion that he was selected too early. Spies had a long injury and Roberts struggled to adapt to Super 14. Roberts was with the emerging Springboks.

Mr Dikgawi said that he was told that there were four black and three coloured players but he did not see seven players of colour on the field when the Bulls played.

Mr Van Graan responded that all the players made a significant contribution to the game and all of them played different roles. Players were not hidden and had certain roles that had to be fulfilled.

Mr D Lee (DA) referred to the presentation that stated that there were 12 clubs in Black areas. He wanted know how many clubs were there overall.

Mr Van Graan replied that there were 42 clubs.

Mr Lee commented that he was for development and school sport. He asked how well organised was school rugby in their province.

Mr Lee also wanted to about black involvement in school rugby.

Mr Lee noted that since a strong team usually meant strong club rugby, he asked how strong was their club rugby. Since the Blue Bulls had performed so successfully surely they had done something right.

Mr L Reid (ANC) said that while listening to the presentation it had become quite clear that a rosy picture had been painted, when it was obvious that most of the Bulls black players were from the Boland. He wanted to know what was being done to develop black players in their province.

Mr Van Graan replied that they had high player costs and that they had hoped to decrease the price of tickets. It had to be noted that only 9000 school boys played rugby. They had struggled to get players in Limpopo and Northern Gauteng to play rugby. However they admitted that they needed to adapt.

Mr Reid noted that whenever there was a replacement required for the Bulls, Derek Keane was brought on and not Hilton Roberts. Was a black replacement used only when they could not find a white replacement?

Mr van Graan answered that Derek Keane had special role as a replacement hooker and a loose forward.

Mr Reid commented that the Bulls were portrayed as the last bastion of white supremacy and that image needed to change.

Mr Van Graan replied that he was surprised that they had that image even with the development of the brand however the statistics illustrated that there was change happening in rugby in general.

Mr Reid said that the Bulls received most of the Lotto funds and asked why they still appealed to the provincial government for more funds when they could use the funds received from Lotto to develop players instead of buying players.

Mr Van Graan stated that the Bulls company did not benefit from government grants.

Ms W Makgate (ANC) mentioned the research the Bulls had undertaken that indicated more blacks were interested in rugby. She wanted to know when would the matter be addressed.

Ms Makgate asked about the Bulls' social responsibility.

Mr T Louw (ANC) asked where were the clubs that were mentioned and how were they being assisted. Mr Louw mentioned that in the white areas, their clubs obtained sponsorship and they could afford to buy players. Black clubs had not received any sponsors hence development was stagnant. The number of black players had not changed over time as it should. He expressed his concern that when the national coach picked a team and there were injuries, the replacement players were rarely black and it seemed as if it were only the black players that were injured.

Mr B Holomisa (UDM) addressed his question to the leadership of SARU, and asked if they were satisfied with transformation in rugby in South Africa.

Mr Hoskins answered that they were not happy with the rate of transformation. 

Mr Holomisa asked if they had a policy that all provinces were meant to follow and how it was monitored. He  asked if they had received any complaints about the manner in which the franchise had been operated.

Mr Hoskins commented on the constitution of the rugby leadership and acknowledged that that constitution had been suited to the amateur days. He believed that a closer look at the constitution had to take place and would put the idea to the Presidents' Council. SARU as the mother body had to have more authority. At the end of the day, it would be the same Presidents' Council that would enforce the constitution.

Mr Mpumelelo Tshume (Chairman of SARU) replied that the five franchises were independent entities. Independence referred to any franchise that would be considered as a commercial entity. It would chiefly comprise of one union and an external party, but it would remain independent of the South African Rugby Union and therefore no mechanism of monitoring was in place. Monitoring was actually the domain of the shareholder, which was their union, from where the checks and balances would have to come. SARU had no power to dictate terms.

The Chairperson commented that that was a very shocking statement: that within SARU there were organisations who could operate independently of the mother body.

Mr Mike Stofile (Deputy President of SARU) commented that all the unions had agreed to and signed an agreement with regard to the Charter.

Mr Peter Hassard (President of the Sharks) gave a point of correction and said that the union was a major shareholder and that they were linked to the SARU. All the balance sheets for the year were submitted to SARU and SA Rugby and therefore they were monitored. The company part of the Sharks, Sharks Pty Limited, ran only the professional arm of rugby.

The Chair reiterated that this was contradictory to what the Chairman had said.

Mr Johan Prinsloo (CEO of SARU) mentioned the participation agreement in the Super 14 which made them adhere to the rules and regulations. SARU had control. The managing director of the company meets with the union; SARU was always in control although they did not own any shares.

The Chair commented that in the constitution of rugby, provinces can legally make their own decision, without any repercussions. There was nothing that bound provinces in the constitution because of this. The constitution had to be redesigned.

Mr Masango said that before the Super 14 final, about 100 white children were on the field. He asked where were the black children.

Mr Van Graan replied that they did have programs for pre-match situations and they were assured that there black school kids on the field. He also noted that the match mentioned was in fact a semi-final.

Mr Masango was concerned about the sports boundaries versus the political boundaries. The Bulls received money from two provinces.. There were concerns from provinces that the Bulls were benefiting financially yet the provinces had not received any benefits.

Mr van Graan replied that they did not benefit from government grants.

Mr E Lucas (ANC) said that merit could not be achieved without development. Rugby players were developed from the bottom up and the only time they could prove themselves was when they were playing on the field.

Mr van Graan believed that in due time they would have a non-racial team and the field would have been levelled.

Mr Digakwi was not satisfied with the answers given. He said the number of black players given in the statistics was not equivalent to the number of players seen playing on the field.

The Chair stated that it was agreed with the Blue Bulls that they would go to each of the provinces and have meetings to inspect the situation. He reiterated that there was no checks and balances for the provinces to keep in line with transformation guidelines. There needed to be harmony between the national and the provincial branch.
Free State Cheetahs presentation
Mr Harold Verster (Chairman of the Free State Rugby Union) stated that their vision was to transform, reform and profit. The highest point was transformation and they were totally committed to the SA Charter. They had a meeting with Willie Basson and all staff members regarding their progress on transformation. It was a fact that they were one of the smallest unions; this could also be seen as their strength. Mr Verster gave a breakdown of the management and staff, as well as detailing the race of the top staff members.

He said that the Currie Cup was a big problem as it remained 70 to 80% white and it required transformation.
One of the chief goals was to improve access for all people, this would also require a transformation process. Skills and capabilities were being developed. They were in principle wanting to add black women. They had a close relationship with the Griffons as they were located in the same province. With regard to the Currie Cup, they would add more black players as well as develop their own players. They had added several black employees to their top management staff. He felt that he should state that whites mostly played rugby. Hhowever the sport was growing amongst coloureds and blacks. They would rather develop the quality of the clubs that they currently have, as opposed to creating new clubs. They also had a strong relationship with the municipality and local government. Mr Verster listed the black players in the Cheetahs rugby squad and gave reasons for those players who did not play on the field.


Mr B Holomisa (UDM) remembered at one stage there was a good African fly half but he could not play because he was not South African. He asked how many players were from neighbouring countries.

Mr Vester mentioned that he had played in a match, but was disqualified because he was not South African.

Mr Holomisa asked what was the future policy on players from the neighbouring countries who were educated in South Africa.

Mr Dikgacwi commented that all the presentations would be the same. There was nothing concrete in them that gave guarantees. Most of the black players did not come from the Free State. He asked why they could not develop their own players.

Mr Verster agreed that they should develop their own players.

Mr N van Rooyen (DA) said that in his opinion the presentation did not reflect what actually happened in the Free State.  If one looked at their constitution, most of the senior clubs were allowed to elect four members to the general council whereas the junior clubs could elect only one member.  This already created a disparity, thus the constitution itself did not allow for transformation.

Mr Lee referred to Mr Van Rooyen’s comments and found it sad that Free State's rugby constitution did not allow for Black people to be in senior management positions, and asked the President to verify the statement.

Mr Verster replied that the constitution did not prohibit any one from being elected.  It would not be easy to elect a black person because most of the eligible representatives would be white. Each of the clubs had one representative on the council.  They had already decided to correct those imbalances. He requested a visit from the Portfolio Committee to illustrate his point.

Mr van Rooyen said that he had looked at the website of the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Limited, which was subject to the Employment Equity Act, and discovered information that differed from the information that was given by the presenter.  On the website all of the staff were white except for one. The same could also be said for the Free State Rugby Union.

Mr Verster responded that that was incorrect. The website reflected the staff structures, however it was not updated with the controlling body and the audit committee. He would gladly have a meeting with the Honourable Member and discuss these issues. He added that he would apologise to the Committee if anything that he had said was not true.

Mr van Rooyen remained on the topic of the constitution as he saw this as the chief issue of concern.  For the past 13 years the Free State Cheetahs did not have one coloured or black deputy president because their constitution did not allow for that. Another issue was the Managing Director of the Free State Cheetahs Pty Ltd was also President of the Free State Rugby Union. There had to be a level of conflict of interest.

Mr Verster admitted that he held both positions. He reported directly to the board, which had almost a 50/50 representation. The chairperson of the board was black. If he was prohibiting transformation then he would leave.

Mr Reid said that the issue of black players in Free State seemed similar to the Bulls, as they relied heavily on the academy and the Northern Free State Griffons and Griquas.  They had to spend their meagre resources on development and yet their prize players were poached by bigger teams.  SARU should get involved in order to change this situation. What sort of compensation was provided to these provincial teams?

Mr Lee mentioned that the Free State was fortunate to have Grey College, which was a reputable institution with a tradition of producing excellent rugby players. He wanted to know what sort of assistance was provided in order to send children to this institution.

The President replied that they had started a bursary scheme and a few people had already been chosen.

Mr Louw thought the issue of the constitution was serious if it had not allowed for the election of black people onto their council. Further explanation should be provided. He also required clarification on the issue of information on the website.

Mr Verster responded that the website did not accurately reflect the top structure of the Cheetahs.  The facts he had presented were correct.  He understood that the website needed to be upgraded. He admitted that there was a mistake and that it needed to be corrected.

Ms Ntuli commented that it seemed as if the presenters were ‘privatising’ their presentations, as there were no handouts. He asked for clarification on the extent to which development was implemented.

Mr Verster replied that it would take time to explain all the development activities.  There were four development offices.  Only one was subsidised by SA Rugby. They had established satellite entities in the smaller areas to draw those closest to them into rugby.  The development process was a huge project.

Mr Van Rooyen clarified that the Free State constitution did not explicitly say that no black person can be president, it dealt more with the balance of voting power.  He had communicated through the press and asked for a meeting and received the reply that dictated to him who could accompany him.  On that basis, he refused the visit.

Mr Verster apologised for placing such a restriction on Mr van Rooyen and invited him for a another visit.  He agreed that there was an imbalance of the voting power and thanked Mr Van Rooyen for clarifying the issue.

The Chair commented that the issue of the transformation was a holistic agenda. Equalised opportunities had to be realised. Rugby had failed to lay the foundation to transform for the past 15 years. It seemed that the Super 14 were the culprits who were not levelling the ‘playing field’. When the Committee came to the provinces to do their oversight, they would discuss the issue of the constitution and the restriction it had placed on provincial rugby.

Golden Lions Rubgy Union presentation
Prof Jannie Ferriera, Golden Lions Rubgy Union President and Cats CEO, said that they provide full details when the Portfolio Committee came to their province for an oversight visit. The President gave a brief rundown of the statistics, which detailed the number of black players.  There was an admission of the fact that they required more transformation (see document).


Mr Louw said he was disheartened by the state of the rugby. Super 14 was given a large number of black players and yet there were only two to three black players. It was a myth that black children preferred soccer. There seemed to be a deliberate political agenda to keep black players from playing professional rugby. The abundance of numbers was blinding them to the truth.

Prof Ferreira admitted that there was a bottleneck and that it affected all players, however, the ultimate effect was bigger on black players.  He stated categorically that there was no political agenda against transformation. They were fully committed to the transformation process.  They were just as dissatisfied with the three to five players. The numbers that were shown were the players eight years from now.  It was a high performance process that needed to be cultivated.

Mr Dikgacwi commented that the Under 19s and 21s had won the World Cup. Both sides had black players. Why were they not selected for further progression? It seemed as if only the white players were selected for the bigger teams.

Prof Ferreira replied that the dropout rate was 70% of all players of the Under 21 team, it was not restricted to black players. They would have to do an internal analysis to discover if the problem was with them or the Department.

Ms Ntuli said that she believed that they were all facing the same problem: it seemed as if the rugby unions had not been ready for transformation since 1994. She noted that the issue of women was in brackets.  It was relegated as a side issue. Transformation must include gender issues.

Prof Ferreira responded that women in the community had not been playing rugby. There had been some white women on the committee for a while. They did not have an outside partner.  They had created a BEE, of which they own only 49%.  They also realised that time was running out.

Ms Ntuli wanted to know what challenges were there that had prohibited transformation as well as development of black players.

Prof Ferreira replied that school sport was an issue, as they did not have available facilities. They had built facilities in township schools to get them involved. They had also established youth clubs, but it was not enough.  There were no physical education programs at school, however that had now become part of the national agenda.

The Chair mentioned that the Department had touched on all the things that had been brought up by the unions.  On the issue of amateur development and mass participation in sport, he did not understand where the Union got the idea that there was no money for this. It was the Union’s job to find out where they could get the money. There had not been any notification that there had been a thorough discussion between the Department and the Union on the issue of development. There seemed to be no consequences. It seemed as if  the provinces were deliberately marginalising the black players. The national selector cannot pick a team if black players were not represented in provincial teams.

The Chair had given the other unions who had not presented a guarantee that they would visit them in their provinces to address all the relevant issues.

At this point Mr B Holomisa (UDM) presented his statement which he handed to all present at the meeting. The statement briefly gave the opinion that transformation was not happening. He called for an "independent commission" to investigate transformation in rugby (see document).

The Chair commented that he was pleased that none of the unions had said that they would not enforce the agenda of transformation.  He commented that Mr Holomisa’s observations were correct. The rugby constitution was not conducive to transformation and should be changed.

The Chair addressed SARU on the serious implication broadcast by the media that the President of the Country wants to take over rugby.  No one had that agenda. SARU had not spoken up against this statement. Their silence was indicative of their belief that this statement was true. It was time for SARU to take action.

Mr B Dlamini (IFP) wanted to stress that the views of Mr Holomisa were his opinion and not the view of the Committee. Mr Dikgacwi and Mr Bhoola agreed. Mr Dikgacwi said that they had not interacted with all the unions and therefore could make such a statement.

The Chair reiterated that the statement represented only Mr Holomisa's views. However they would have to engage on the statement.

Mr Holomisa proposed that the Chair provide a way forward.

The Chair agreed that they had to interact with all the unions, and thereafter would provide a final statement.   The last issue raised was that they would appreciate an explanation from SARU for the conspiracy theory regarding the President and rugby.  He also mentioned that they should not have a coach that demoralises the team through his negative comments. It created concerns in the Springbok team.  His final remark was that the President did not have an agenda against rugby.

The meeting was adjourned.

SA rugby faces change  Wed, 13 Jun 2007

With South African rugby already facing some radical changes — a Springbok team in 2008 that includes 10 non-white players — South African Rugby Union (Saru) president Oregan Hoskins on Tuesday suggested that more changes might be in the offing.

Speaking to the government's portfolio committee on sport, where Saru faced its customary dressing down over a lack of transformation, Hoskins hinted that he will seek to change the sport's constitution to speed up transformation.

Hoskins' declaration came on a day when more politicians jumped on the transformation bandwagon.

Not only were members of the portfolio committee on sport lining up to take pot shots at the hapless rugby bosses, but United Democratic Front (UDF) leader Bantu Holomisa has called for an "independent commission" to investigate transformation in rugby.

And rugby's biggest nemesis, portfolio committee chairperson Butana Komphela, who recently suggested the players should have their passports impounded if the team did not become more representative of the country's ethnic mix, also weighed in with his usual barrage.

Changes on the way

Hoskins, clearly on the back foot, admitted that Saru may have to resort to more drastic measures than they have in recent times.

"I'm not happy with the pace of transformation as the leader of Saru," Hoskins said.

"Our current constitution might have been suited to an amateur era. We need to look at it and put it to the presidents' council for possible modification.

"To move rugby forward Saru must have more authority. Change is not something we need to fear."

Komphela raised concerns not only about a lack of "black" representation in the Springbok team, but also the Super 14 sides.

"The Super 14 franchises are one of the culprits that aren't giving black players equal opportunities on the field," said Komphela, who is a member of the governing African National Congress.

"To what extent are the Super 14 teams helping the national team in terms of transformation? Do the provincial teams share the same ideas and vision as the national leadership?

"It's a fact that you can't find black players ready to play for the Springboks from anywhere else but the provincial teams.

"Sport cannot be exonerated from the broad picture of government programmes.

"Sport cannot be excluded from imperatives of empowerment and transformation," Komphela added.

A political problem

Tsietsi Louw, another ANC member on the committee, said that black players aspiring to play for the national side were running into obstacles that had nothing to do with their ability.

"We are dealing with a political problem here," he said.

"We have all these players moving up (through the ranks) but when they get there, there is a bottleneck. There is a deliberate political agenda to keep these black players where they are. Only three or four will (succeed)."

Union representatives were mistaken if they believed they were "doing us a favour" by reporting they had three black players on board, said Louw.

"How is it possible that after 13 years we have only three players?"

The UDF leader, Holomisa, said current state of rugby administration was questionable and called for an independent commission.

"The national leadership claims it has transformation targets in place, but reality does not reflect this," Holomisa said.

"In order to achieve tangible and implemental outcomes... it would therefore require the appointment of an independent two — or three-person committee to investigate transformation, equity and BEE status of the entire rugby administration."

Difficult to transform

Blue Bulls general manager Johan Schoeman said a lack of emphasis on rugby in many schools was making it difficult for the union to achieve higher transformation targets.

"Other stakeholders, such as the department of education, local governments and provincial sports departments have to assist us if we are to succeed," he said.

Holomisa said rugby unions should not be allowed to hide under the same excuses forever.

"The findings that flow from an investigation could then be brought to a rugby indaba where all stakeholders can reach consensus on the necessary steps that need to be taken and set clear timeframes for implementation."

Committee chair Butana Komphela said Holomisa's view was a personal one, and should not be seen as the committee's position.

"The committee would first interact with all rugby role-players before deciding on what steps to be taken," he said.


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