SA Rugby and Western Province accused of racial inequality in appointment of coaches and staff

18 October 2018 - 13:58
By Liam Del Carme
Robbie Fleck (Head Coach) during the DHL Stormers training session at HPC, Bellville on May 24, 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. File photo
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images Robbie Fleck (Head Coach) during the DHL Stormers training session at HPC, Bellville on May 24, 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. File photo

The racial inequality in the appointment of their coaches and key decision-making staff puts SA Rugby and Western Province at odds with the Constitution.

So said Professor Brian Williams at a round-table discussion at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) on Wednesday.

Williams‚ a labour law mediator‚ argued the Constitution contains specific clauses that guards against discrimination and inequality which are backed up by laws to ensure its implementation.

Professor Williams wrote: “Arising out of the equality clause of the Constitution‚ two equality laws apply in South Africa: one for the workplace and one for society.

"1. Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act‚ 2000 (PEPUDA)

"2. Employment Equity Act‚ 1998. For those who are employed in sports bodies and organisations such as coaches‚ professional staff as well as support staff‚ the EEA applies.

“The supremacy of the EEA is set out in section 63 which states that ‘if any conflict relating to a matter dealt with in this act arises between this law and the provisions of any other law‚ other than the Constitution or any act of parliament expressly amending this act‚ the provisions of this act shall prevail’.”

Although common knowledge‚ he provided statistics which paints a bleak picture of how SA Rugby‚ Western Province and indeed most of other provincial affiliates‚ have failed to address inequality in the appointment of key decision making staff.

He wrote the following about the Springboks:

“Colonial and apartheid period: 100% white coaches. 1994-2018: 84% white.

“Only two coaches from the designated group (black) were appointed in the past century; Peter De Villiers‚ 2009 and Allister Coetzee in 2016.

“Currently‚ the context of SA Rugby is that it is dominated in relation to appointments and promotions by non designated groups: whites.”

He highlighted the fact that of the seven national coaches‚ the five high profile ones (Springboks‚ Sevens‚ SA u20‚ Sevens Academy and SA Schools) are occupied by white coaches.

The SA women’s team and the SA women’s sevens team‚ both have black coaches.

He went on to remind that the chief executive‚ director of rugby‚ high performance managers (among the provinces) were white.

About Western Province he wrote the following: “Since the time of colonialism and into apartheid‚ 100 percent white coaches over the past 100 plus years of Western Province Rugby.”

He then pointed out that between 1994 and 2018 Western Province and the Stormers only had one black coach between them.

“The startling facts suggest that the colonial and apartheid model that was applied during the worst days of oppression still exists today‚” wrote Williams.

“What does this mean in the context of the different equality laws that exist to bring about transformation in sport?

“It suggests that the equality laws and the constitutional obligations to correct the historical imbalances created by oppression and injustice were ignored and not applied by Western Province and elsewhere in South Africa.”

He sought to provide a pathway to transformation in sport.

“In order to understand the pillars upon which fundamental transformation from inequality‚ racism and unfair discrimination is anchored‚ it is important to recognise the historical context that informs the need for human rights through a Constitution underpinned by constitutional democracy.

“In the Founding provisions in Chapter One‚ article one of the Constitution dealing with the Republic‚ the following is stated

“The Republic of South Africa is one sovereign‚ democratic state founded on the following values:

(a) Human dignity‚ the achievement of equality‚ the advancement of human rights and freedoms

(b) Non racialism and non sexism

(c) Supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law”.