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SARU must go to school

Fri, 06 Dec 2013 07:30
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What happens at school level is an example for the rest of the country
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In Part Two of his exclusive interview with Jan de Koning about the vexed issue of quotas, Breyton Paulse suggested SARU go back to school.

The political-based view that rugby in South Africa remains a white man's game is not going to change overnight.

And while some progress has been made to "transform" the game, legendary Springbok Breyton Paulse feels there is some way to go.

Paulse, in an in depth interview with this website about the vexed issue of "quotas", said the real solution can be found in the progress made by some of the most prominent schools in South Africa.

Asked if he felt SA rugby is far off the mark and whether indeed the playing field is being levelled, he was forthright in his response.

"There is still some way to go, [but] we have come a long distance from where we were," said the former Bok flyer, who scored 26 tries in the 64 Tests he played for South Africa between 1999 and 2007.

When a South African Rugby Union delegation briefed the sport and recreation oversight committee earlier this year, SARU Chief Executive Jurie Roux painted a bleak picture.

He suggested that should SARU wait for players at grass-roots level to rise through the ranks, it will take at least another 10 to 12 years before the organisation meets its transformation "targets".

That might explain why they have opted to step in near the top end, with the Vodacom Cup quota system - a transformation approach of changing from the top down.

However, Paulse doesn't agree that that  avenue is the ideal solution.

"I follow schools rugby a lot and I must say it is an eye-opener to see how great the guys gel at school," Paulse told this website.

"I am talking about the big schools," he said, adding: "It is great to see there is such a [great] spirit and vide in the teams.

"You can see the guys are well integrated and the guys understand each other.

"For them it is not about black and white.

"I feel that is a great example."

Despite the bleak picture painted by SARU bosses earlier this year, a presentation to a Parliamentary Monitoring Group last year, suggested what Paulse was not that far off the mark.

In the presentation of SARU's transformation implementation plan, Marvin Green, the General Manager: Development at SARU, said the demographic representation of SARU players at junior level (Under-11 to Under-19) showed far greater 'black' representation.

Of the 332 689 players, 188 411 were blacks and 144 278 were white, according to Green's presentation. Green also noted that at school level there was (in May last year) 57 percent black to 43 percent white representation.

That would explain why Paulse saw so much progress at schools level.

"The development of players at school is the model [to work from]," the former Bok wing told this website.

"The guys are seen as heroes, not as quota players.

"What happens at school level is an example for the rest of the country.

"I feel the future looks great."

It is a fact that while significant progress had been made in implementing the transformation plans - particularly traditional rugby schools and in black schools that had formerly played rugby - a number of challenges still presented themselves in relation to rural schools.

By Jan de Koning

* Don't miss the remainder of our interview with Paulse, as he continues to explain how we could level the playing field, what SARU's involvement should/could be and how to change the current model of development.

Epic SA Schools Rugby !

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