Why Mujati can't play for Boks

Fri, 23 Nov 2012 15:58
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He must be a naturalised South African

England-based prop Brian Mujati will have to return to South Africa and play for local teams if he ever wishes to be selected for the Springboks again.

This is the gist of the message from the office of the Sports Minister, Fikile Mbalula, when asked for the reason why he refused to grant the South African Rugby Union a special concession to allow Mujati to play for the national team.

Bok coach Heyneke Meyer was keen to use Mujati on the year-end tour, where they meet England in their third and final match on Saturday. He asked SARU to formally approach the minister of sport to get clearance for Mujati.

However, Mbalula turned them down.

Justin de Allende, the Special Advisor and spokesperson to the minister, told this website that Mujati will have to follow the same process as another Zimbabwean Bok, Tendai Mtawarira, did two years ago if Mujati was to add to his 12 previous Tests.

Although Mtawarira and Mujati were both fully eligible to play for South Africa under the IRB's three-year residency rules, their Zimbabwean nationality became a sticking point with the government in 2009.

They blocked the two props' selection.

Mtawarira, who is still living and playing in South Africa, went through a lengthy process and was granted South African citizenship on 25 June 2010.

Mujati, who featured in 12 Tests for the Boks in 2008, in 2009 decided he needed a fresh challenge and signed a contract to play or Northampton Saints.

"The reason behind the minister's decision is that we feel he must go through the same process that applies to everybody else," De Allende told this website in an interview on Friday.

"He must be a naturalised South African," De Allende said, adding: "All sportsmen and women who want to represent South Africa must qualify through the proper process.

"He [Mujati] has to live in South Africa for the prescribed period, play his rugby here and apply for citizenship. We should rely on people from other countries, we have our own players here [in South Africa].

"If Mujati went through the process when he was still in South Africa, he could have been qualified [to play for South Africa] long ago," the minister's spokesman said.

If Mujati does not return to SA, he will effectively have ended his international career.

According to IRB regulations he can't represent any other country, even if he becomes an English citizen, as he has already played for SA.

By Jan de Koning