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Springboks' Kolisi sparks quota debate

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Springboks captain Kolisi's comments on quota system cause major stir, but he's not the first

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi is under fire for his comments about the current quota system in place.

The South African government and the SARU have an agreement that 50 per cent of the Springboks team at this year’s World Cup in Japan should be black.

Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus said in April his 2018 target was 45%, but figures show that 67 black players were named in the starting XV for the Springboks’ 14 Tests – it works at less than five.

“When the season is finished, you must have 45 percent [black players]. At the end of the season, [if I didn’t reach that quota] then I didn’t reach one of my KPIs – it is as easy as that,” Erasmus said after being appointed as head coach.

“It is out there, it is 45 percent and that is the target for this year. If I don’t make it, I will be in trouble.”

Now his captain Kolisi has weighed in on the debate and believes the quota system may not have been backed by former South African President Nelson Mandela.

“I don’t think he [Mandela] would have supported that [quotas], but I don’t know him.” Kolisi told Japanese news agency Kyodo News.

“I would not want to be picked because of my skin colour because that surely would not be good for the team, and the guys around you would know.”

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Kolisi, who became the first black Springbok captain this year, spoke about the quota target for the World Cup, saying: “You should not put a number on stuff like that.”

“If you want to talk about [racial] transformation, you have got to start there [grassroots level].

“Imagine if I had not gone to an English [high] school. I would not have eaten properly, I would not have grown properly.

“Maybe in the Currie Cup [domestic championship] you can try guys out and push people in and see how they do.

“But you cannot just [pick someone in the Springboks side because of his colour]. In South Africa, it is tough because we want results and transformation.”

2007 World Cup winning head coach Jake White also caused a stir earlier this year by suggesting Erasmus should select a starting XV against Wales in their season’s opener in Washington DC based on trying to hit “transformation targets”.

“I’d look to pick a team against Wales that is made up of local players with a special emphasis on those that count towards the transformation targets,” White said.

“This team would serve the dual purpose of banking transformation credits to create selection breathing room for the England series, and would also give all of these players a chance to put their hand up on the international stage”

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen described South Africa as “the only team in sport I know that doesn’t pick its best team,” which provoked plenty of criticism.

Hansen made the comments in 2017 for a book ‘The Jersey: The Secrets Behind the World’s Most Successful Team’.

“I understand what they are trying to do but… Nelson Mandela understood it better than anyone else. He knew that the Springboks was a team that could unite the nation. I still believe it is.

“If they got things right and allowed it to develop naturally, it would. And you would get the right people in the team. In the end, it would be a multi-cultural team.

“Rugby wasn’t a black man’s sport, but it was the sport that would unify the country in a way that no other sport or business could.”

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Springboks captain Kolisi's comments on quota system cause major stir, but he's not the first