Has Meyer quelled transformation flames?


The racial composition of the Springbok squad did not escape the attention of the media who attended Friday night's squad announcement at a luxury beachside hotel in Durban where the team is based for its World Cup preparations.

The players of colour include Trevor Nyakane, Siya Kolisi, Rudy Paige, Zane Kirchner, JP Pietersen, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo and Damian de Allende. Some commentators have included Tendai Mtawarira in this grouping, although he is not South African-born.

In recent weeks, there has also been running commentary in the media about De Allende's race but latest media reports on the subject have named him as a player of colour.

South African Rugby Union (SARU) deputy president Mark Alexander who presided over the squad announcement said that the Bok squad had met their transformation requirements, as agreed upon by the national government and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), a few weeks ago.

The basic requirement was 30% players of colour, which constitutes nine out of the 31-man squad. “We are happy with where we are with our transformation initiative,” said Alexander.

“We signed an agreement with government and Sascoc. There are six dimensions (in the agreement), and performance is one of them. We checked our barometer and we are 92 percent on track. “We (SA rugby) could do better but we are happy where we are right now.”

Scrumhalf Paige is the leftfield selection and to a lesser extent fullback Kirchner.

The uncapped Paige hasn't featured in the Boks' Tests this year although Meyer has now revealed that he had earmarked the No 9 since last year's end-of-year tour.

Instead, Cobus Reinach was played behind Ruan Pienaar who enjoyed the most game time. The Ireland-based Kirchner was brought in from international wilderness after he played for the Boks against Scotland in Port Elizabeth in June 2014.

In the light of the transformation furore preceding the squad announcement, it now seems Meyer has been doing his homework to ensure that his transformation numbers are up and played him 'out of the blue' against Argentina in Buenos Aires recently.

There is a host of players of colour who would have had strong claims but missed out on RWC selection, based on excellent and consistent form in this year's Super Rugby competition. Their number include flyhalf Elton Jantjies, centres Lionel Mapoe and Juan de Jongh (before his recent injury).

Wing Cornal Hendricks and Oupa Mohoje, who plays flank but can double up as a lock, too would have had high selection hopes after Meyer had some good things to say about them after limited playing recently.

Ironically, Hendricks and Oupa Mohoje were featured in a life-size stand-up cardboard Springbok display which greeted guests on Friday in the hotel foyer where the team was based. - African News Agency (ANA)

Original source: Has Meyer quelled transformation flames?