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Kings of transformation

Sun, 19 Aug 2012 15:00
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The Southern Kings will not have any special conditions of selection, but they are expected to boost transformation in South African rugby.

Although at the expense of the Lions, the region of the Eastern Cape has finally been granted the Super Rugby franchise that they were first promised back in 2005, and along with that is the expectation that they will develop a high number of black players.

SARU chairman Oregan Hoskins explained: "One of the reasons that we decided to give a franchise to the Eastern Cape was that historically it has been the place where a large majority of the black players and coloured players come from and we sincerely believe that this will inspire a lot of the youngsters that are there to want to play for their franchise so that is one of the cardinal reasons why we fought so hard to get this franchise going.

"That is why we aspired to form a franchise there - to really get our transformational imperatives to where they should be. That is really the historical black rugby area where people have played rugby for more than a century so they need to get their act together quickly," he said.

There is a concern that the Kings will import the bulk of their squad for their debut Super Rugby season next year in a bid to keep their spot in the competition, but Hoskins is confident that they will come to the transformation party.

"I think they will come to the party eventually because they have got to take account their own constituents, and the players that are there are going to want to play for their franchise and I think they will be under pressure to prepare those players.

"Together with their leadership we talk about it regularly and I have had regular chats with the President of the Eastern Province Rugby Union and he has assured me that he is dealing with it and that he is actually talking to his coaches regularly," he said.

Hoskins made it clear that the Kings will not operate by different rules to the other South African franchises, but explained that they have a better opportunity to contribute to transformation than other areas and will be expected to take advantage of that.

"I don't think we as South African rugby would ever attach conditions to them that are not attached to the other franchises, that would be grossly unfair.

"We are not going to say that they are going to have x number of black players more than any other franchise, what we are saying is that given their situation they need to be looking at it much more than the other franchises.

"To specifically label them with conditions would be totally unfair, we are certainly not going to be there to set them up to fail, in fact it is going to be in South African rugby's best interests that the Kings succeed because ultimately it is an area that produces future black stars," he said.

SARU chief executive Jurie Roux said that having relooked at their transformation charter SARU will commit to the Kings by engaging with the people in the area and setting up structures to enable them to stimulate transformation.

"We have always had a tranformation charter, I think what we have lacked is a transformation plan and an operational plan.

"We have just gone through the process of approving a strategic plan and adopting the transformation charter into a plan and also a very implementable operational plan, and we are taking that to each and every region.

"We are not only meeting with the leadership, we are meeting with the coaches and the people who are actually doing the work on the ground to explain to them how we want them to assist us in delivering on this plan and how we are going to implement it," he explained.

The Kings might be expected to boost transformation in South African rugby, but the pressure to perform to keep their place may prevent them from living up to that expectation which would leave both them and SARU in something of an awkward position

By Michael de Vries

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