They want to be accepted by the team and have the respect of their teammates
Jan de Koning chatted exclusively to legendary Springbok Breyton Paulse about the vexed issue of quotas in South Africa.
Quotas or targets, call them what you like, they have become an anathema in the South African rugby vocabulary that always causes heated debated.
In August this year the South African Rugby Union stirred the pot by announcing that "measurable targets" would apply in next season's Vodacom Cup competition.
All 14 provincial teams will be required to pick a "minimum" of seven black players in their match-day squads, two of whom must be forwards. A "minimum" of five black players will be required to start.
Apart from the contradiction in their statement - a quota is an official limit on the number or amount of people that are required; while a target is something that you are trying to achieve - it is likely to unfairly label the group of players it is meant to benefit.
Legendary Springbok Breyton Paulse, who scored 26 tries in the 64 Tests he played for South Africa between 1999 and 2007, admitted that quotas (they are not targets!) are not the solution.
"It is a big degradation for the players," Paulse told this website in an in depth interview in which he not only highlighted the negatives, but also gave SARU a few pointers on what direction they could head into to solve the vexed issue of "development".
Paulse, in an interview back in 2002, admitted that initially he felt he was only in the Bok squad as a quota player. He said then national coach Nick Mallett "nearly broke me" and it would have been more honest to "leave me out altogether".
Despite going on to become an established player, on merit, he knows exactly what it feels like to be called a "quota".
"For the boys [players] themselves it feels very unfair and it places a kind of label on them," the 37-year-old Paulse told this website.
"They feel they are being 'forced' to be in the team.
"It is not nice to play under those circumstances."
The now retired Bok, who scored a hat-trick in his first Test appearance against Italy in 1999 and became famous for his celebratory flick-flack, said the powers that be must be very careful how they handle the quota/target system.
"The players these days just want to play [the game]," Paulse said.
"Whether they are black, white or pink, they don't want to be labelled as quota players.
"It is not good for the boys, because they want to feel they are in the team on merit and that they worked just as hard as the other [white] guys to get into the team.
"They want to be accepted by the team and have the respect of their teammates.
"If you feel you are a kind of a quota player, you won't be very comfortable in the team set-up."
By Jan de Koning
* Don't miss the remainder of our interview with Paulse, in which he speaks about the levelling of the playing field, what SARU's involvement should/could be and how to change the current model of development.