And Warrefok says ... E N C O R E !!!'Happy now but knives will be out soon' October 25 2007 at 09:54AM
Our president, not exactly my favourite political leader of all time, has
certainly had a busy sporting weekend, being hoisted on top of 22 rugger
buggers in Paris, telling the media that Jake White should stay on as coach
and explaining to a radio station that he does not like the name
Wow, that's more dialogue and real down-to-earth opinions in one weekend
than he has uttered during his whole presidency, sitting in his ivory tower,
interspaced between lavish trips to G8 summits and other overseas
For those who support Springbok rugby and who have stuck with White for
a long time, Mbeki's comments about the coach and the fact that it would
be crazy to get rid of him after he has just won the World Cup, make good
It is obvious though that Mbeki was undoubtedly speaking in his personal
capacity and that his thoughts definitely do not hold sway with those
parliamentarians who want to see White go, quotas introduced, the Bok
emblem to be burnt at the stake and for a radical shake up in South African
Of course it was all smiles, slaps on the back and rah rah rah at the
OR Tambo Airport on Tuesday when John Smit was parading the
William Webb Ellis Trophy to the hordes of well wishers and media hounds.
There were also impassioned speeches about building on this success and
enjoying the moment.
Well without trying to be a party pooper I would say that White is quite
right when he says that all he wants to do now is sit down with his
employers, coach the Boks on their end-of-year tour to play Wales and the
Barbarians and not think too far ahead in the midst of this euphoria and
Because if I know anything about South African sport, officials and how
they think, there is little doubt that some idiot from the Sports Folio
Committee or some other parliamentarian will soon be changing their tune
and making several recommendations, if not downright demands, which will
drive even more Boks and potential Boks, not to mention future Sharks,
to think about finishing their careers overseas.
Of course everyone has a political agenda and everyone seems to have an
idea of what should happen in rugby, not to mention cricket and other
sporting codes under pressure to transform.
Once again I repeat what I have always said. It is quite obvious and right
that black players, or previously disadvantaged players need to get a fair
crack of the whip. But the way to do this is at grassroots level.
I know we have development programmes in many sports but clearly it is
not enough and I would like to see stories, pictures and clear examples of
all the hundreds of coaches, seeking out talent in the poorer areas, putting
them through academies and nurturing the talent that is clearly there.
How tragic that we read almost every day about some corrupt government
figure being caught out or being unable to explain how millions of rands go
Just imagine if that money went "missing" to a national youth development
sports programme where each province had hands-on and vigorous plans in
place to unearth black players and that coaches put their trust in them and
gave them every necessary chance.
Transformation does not start at the top and it makes no sense to tell Smit
or Percy Montgomery to bugger off overseas and disallow them to play for
the Boks down the line.
SA Rugby must make sure they change this ridiculous overseas rule, pick
the best players but at the same time, put their money where they mouth
is and start proper and meaningful development programmes.
We seem to go round and round in circles on this one and I am sick of
reading and talking about it.
What we need is a national indaba to iron out these grey areas and points
of disagreement, come up with a concrete and workable plan and move
forward and stop this posturing.
We are rugby world champions and will be for the next four years. Let's not
screw it up with petty infighting and outrageous statements from those
who know nothing about sport but are only too happy to spend a few
weeks in Paris, partying it up and basking in the reflected glory, only to
return and get the knives out again.
- This article was originally published on page 27 of Daily News on October 25, 2007