That's off the ball, Mr Frolick

The hot topic of transformation in sport boiled to the surface again this week, somewhat predictably in the domain of rugby.

Surprisingly, though, it was not initiated by Butana Komphela, usual suspect and chairperson of Parliament’s sport portfolio committee. Rather, it was Cedric Frolick, vice-chairperson of the committee, who expressed concern over the make-up of the Springbok team for this weekend’s Tri-Nations clash.

In comments carried on the SuperSport website, Frolick was quoted as disagreeing with the selection of Percy Montgomery and Fourie du Preez over Conrad Jantjes and Ricky Januarie.

“It was Ricky who helped make history in the House of Pain,” SuperSport quoted Frolick as saying, referring to the try that clinched a Bok win in Dunedin.

“Personally, I think Ricky has proved himself as South Africa’s leading scrumhalf.
Is it Fourie’s World Cup status that now elevates him above Ricky? In my view, Fourie has done nothing to justify a place in the starting line-up,” Frolick said.

“Conrad Jantjes is, on present form, the number-one fullback. It is worrying that people make decisions with their heart to give someone [Montgomery] his 100th Test cap.”

Unfortunately, what can be seen as purely rugby-based decisions have been tarred with the brush of politics. It is unlikely that many in the rugby world would disagree with coach Peter de Villiers and these selections.

It’s difficult to question the selection of someone who has the pedigree and class to be on the brink of 100 Test caps for his country. So, too, the selection of a scrumhalf widely regarded as the best in the world. Du Preez’s appearance in the Test against Argentina confirmed his class and ability.

Both Januarie and Jantjes have played exceptionally well this year, and may well feel hard done by over their demotions. But that’s the nature of sport. Somebody always loses out. There is nothing sinister about it.

Unlike with some previous coaches, the public has never been left feeling that the selection by De Villiers of any black player was to appease those in the political arena; he has selected his own teams, and these selections can largely be argued on merit. Let him continue doing this, thus giving credibility to transformation.

Frolick also saw fit to comment on the style of play of the Boks: “We have also seen nothing of the new type of rugby that Peter [de Villiers] has spoken of,” he was quoted as saying. Maybe Frolick missed the win against Argentina.

While it is to be expected that pronouncements on transformation in sport will be made by a parliamentary committee from time to time, it is surely a step too far to use such a public platform to cast personal judgement on the way the team plays.

Save that for your living room, Mr Frolick, like the rest of us.

FULL SPEED AHEAD NOT SO FAST
Michael Phelps
This super-Olympian has already racked up a superb 11 Olympic medals, and the Beijing Olympics are far from over. He’s a much-needed example of commitment and endurance in a time when so many sports are suffering from doping scandals and claims of government interference.
Barend Strydom
The “Wit Wolf” has thankfully been out of the public eye for a long time, but last week he appeared in the Boeremag trial as a witness—only to state he still believes black people are not human. Hopefully that’s the last hateful statement we’ll hear from him for a long, long time.

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