Bok coach Rassie Erasmus commits to transformation targets

25 April 2018 - 16:10
By Craig Ray
Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus speaks to the media at the Cape Town International Airport on 25 April 2018.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus speaks to the media at the Cape Town International Airport on 25 April 2018.

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus committed to meeting set targets for racial transformation of the national team by meeting the 45 per cent black player representation threshold this season.

Erasmus‚ 45‚ who is also the national director of rugby‚ believes that there are no excuses not to meet the target even if Super Rugby franchises seldom have more than 30 per cent black player representation.

“I’m of the point of view that we must stop talking around it [transformation]‚” Erasmus said at Cape Town International airport at the conclusion of the third and final Springbok ‘alignment’ camp.

“We must talk about it.

"The target is 45 per cent this year and to be honest with you‚ it’s not 45% in every single game; it’s measured over the entire season.

“If I don’t reach the target by the end of the season‚ I have failed achieve one of my Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). It’s as easy as that.

“I know there will be challenges because you could suddenly have five injuries and you have to make a plan.

"Fortunately we know now that we have to make a plan in that scenario.

"If I don’t make the 45% target I will be in trouble. We must see it like that. It is what it is and we must work around that.”

Erasmus was careful not to be too critical of the Super Rugby teams‚ who have generally been operating below transformation requirements‚ which obviously complicates matters for the Springboks.

He also pointed out that franchise coaches don’t always do want the Bok coach requires when it comes to playing certain players‚ or choosing players in requested positions.

While there has been strengthening of bonds between franchises and Erasmus‚ with the latter bringing all of the Super Rugby head coaches to his alignment camps‚ Erasmus is sympathetic.

“I was a franchise coach too‚ so I understand where they are coming from‚” Erasmus said.

“I’m not just talking transformation now. Sometimes we would like a guy at inside centre and the franchise will pick him at flyhalf.

"We will always leave the franchise coach to make the decision. But I think things are turning around for the better.

“Fleckie [Stormers coach Robbie Fleck] must keep his job and Robert du Preez [Sharks coach] must keep his job and if they help me and the Boks do well but still get fired‚ nobody is going to say thank you to them.

“The Boks win in that scenario‚ but the franchise coach is without a job.

“In terms of transformation‚ Trevor Nyakane [Bulls prop] is starting now and playing wonderful rugby. He’s getting a lot of game time. Siya’s [Kolisi‚ Stormers flank] game is coming back to its best.

“At the end of the day you don’t have to have every single franchise playing 10 to 15 [black] guys for the Boks to reach our target.

“If we count the Kings and Cheetahs there are 26 to 28 black players performing well. There are only spots for 23 players [in a Bok matchday squad].

“Yes it would be great if there was better representation in all teams‚ but hell I also understand that sometimes the franchises are in trouble with injuries or a lack of form.”