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rugby is in safe hands

By unknown | Dec 10, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Rugby legend Daniel "Cheeky" Watson made headlines in 1976 when he declined to sign up for Springbok trials and instead joined a township club in KwaZakhele, Eastern Cape .

Rugby legend Daniel "Cheeky" Watson made headlines in 1976 when he declined to sign up for Springbok trials and instead joined a township club in KwaZakhele, Eastern Cape .

Q: What is your goal as new union president?

A: I think the big thing with the Eastern Province Rugby Union is that there is such a rich history. It is the heartbeat and the breeding ground for black rugby in the country. One must not run away from the fact there is a lot of ground we still have to make up.

The unity process that took place in 1992 did not help rugby. It actually had an adverse effect on black rugby in our union. What happened then was a tremendous downturn in black rugby in EP. So we went into a very, very dry season. A season where we have to reshape, rebuild and relook at the structures within the union.

Q: What is it that you think your union lacks and are there any areas of improvement?

A: What is lacking tremendously in the union is business confidence because that is the heartbeat of black rugby and I really believe an appeal has to be made to the black entrepreneur out there.

If black entrepreneurs would come forward and join hands with the union, I really believe there would be such an influx of black players taking part in the game. There would be no pressure on any coach to pick black players as they would be forced to pick them (on merit).

Q: Would you say transformation in sport is something people generally understand because at times it seems to be mistaken to mean selecting players of different racial groups for the sake of doing that?

A: Transformation is to bring everybody on a level playing field. It is not necessary focusing on the colour but everybody has got to be on the playing field. If you look at the background of the black youngsters and where they come from, they are already at a disadvantage to their white counterparts.

Q: There are concerns that transformation has been stagnant. Your comment.

A: Absolutely, transformation is stagnant. There is not a focused attack on transformation and that is why you find three or four (black) players in the so-called white unions. Those players cannot express or defend themselves in that position and are not comfortable. I appeal to the black entrepreneurs that they must stop sitting on their laurels. Here is an opportunity to get involved in the heartbeat of black rugby. I believe that if we all work together we will really tackle transformation and produce so many black players that they will flood the market.

Q: Do you think there could be more black rugby fans going to matches if it were not for some reported racial incidents? If so, what can be done?

A: I think the issue here is that since the unity process blacks generally, and I regard myself as black, don't feel at home and don't feel welcome as well. Here is an opportunity to turn the situation around.

Q: Few white fans, on the other hand, attend soccer matches, do you think this augurs well for SA, which will be hosting the 2010 World Cup?

A: It shows the disparity from the past where rugby was perceived to be a white sport and soccer to be a black sport. I think it is important that these things are addressed and aggressively so.

What will white South Africans say when they see the stadiums fully packed with whites from other countries in 2010? It will break down the perceptions and show that we can watch sport together, unite and sing with one voice.

It will also do a lot more for transformation and perceptions could be changed.

Q: What do think your relationship is going to be like with the other unions in view of the fact that you are noted for speaking your mind?

A: I would be analysed because I speak my mind. I had my first council meeting and it was successful. I am happy that I was cordially welcomed and the atmosphere was good.

Q: How is your relationship with other administrators at national level?

A: My relationship with administrators is cordial, fine and respectful. What is important is that we may not all agree on everything, but let's work on this in an effective way for the sake of sport in the country.

Q: What should Saru do to speed up the development of rugby?

A: This is a collective issue. An issue where Saru is concerned but still a collective issue where the provinces themselves need to make a concerted effort to address those imbalances. Presently we have to do everything in our power to turn the situation around.

Q: Do you follow any soccer club locally and overseas?

A: I have never been a soccer fan. But I have always supported Kaizer Chiefs and Manchester United. I have now switched my allegiance to the minnows because local is lekker. Simply put, Bay United is the team from home (Eastern Province).


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