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|
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.
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.
August 7 to 13
1. The spy who fingered Mbeki
Corruption-busting ex-spy Mhleli “Paul” Madaka was the source of the sensational claim that President Thabo Mbeki accepted R30-million from a German arms bidder, the Mail & Guardian can reveal.
2. CIA blamed for Scorpions, Aids
British intelligence organisation MI5 and the United States’s CIA are the masters of South Africa’s elite crime-fighting unit the Scorpions, a public hearing into their dissolution heard in Durban on Tuesday.
3. Petrol coupons the new currency in Zimbabwe
Reeling from the highest inflation rate in the world, barred by the government from using United States dollars for purchases, Zimbabweans have turned to a new money source: petrol coupons.
4. Talks between Mugabe and Tsvangirai reach critical stage
Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai were locked in make-or-break talks on Sunday night over how power will be distributed in a coalition government aimed at ending Zimbabwe’s deepening political and economic crisis.
5. Where crime is a way of life
The African National Congress (ANC) has defended its stance on the disbanding of the Scorpions, saying the unit was guilty of “serious violations of the Constitution and the rule of law”.
6. Talks in Zimbabwe falter
Talks to end Zimbabwe’s political crisis were bogged down on Monday as Morgan Tsvangirai resisted intense pressure to agree to Robert Mugabe retaining much of his power.
7. No deal yet in Zim talks, says Mbeki
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating Zimbabwean power-sharing talks, said on Wednesday that negotiations had adjourned to allow the main opposition leader time to consider a deal.
8. Zimbabwe officials thrash out details of deal
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe could sign a power-sharing deal on Sunday that names opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister, a senior ruling party official said on Saturday.
9. Confusion over reports of unexpected Zim deal
Confusion and consternation reigned at the end of three days of power-sharing talks for Zimbabwe amid reports that President Robert Mugabe and a breakaway opposition leader had agreed on a power-sharing deal.
10. Mugabe warns of ‘enemies’ ahead of talks
President Robert Mugabe warned Zimbabwe’s opposition on Monday not to be “used by enemies” in an address to the nation ahead of a new round of power-sharing talks.