Sasco clarifies varsity rugby outcry

It is not about how many black players play rugby for Nelson Mandela University but what position they play in and how they are ranked. This was said by the South African Student Congress (Sasco) following between the Madibaz and Maties. Sasco’s statement, made yesterday, was in response to information showing that the majority of Nelson Mandela University’s rugby players are black and that soccer has the bigger budget. Earlier this week, Sasco leaders said the university was financially favouring rugby, a sport that remained untransformed at the university. Soccer has a total budget of R519 000 for the year while rugby receives R470 000. On Tuesday, Sasco lashed out at NMU director of sport Yoliswa Lumka, saying she had failed to address their concerns around transformation. This was a day after violent clashes between students and security personnel that led to the suspension of the game.

Sasco vehemently denied having fuelled tensions. The organisation’s regional secretary, Athenkosi Daniso, yesterday admitted it had not known what the actual budgets for each sporting code were. “We have not seen the figures [for this year],” Daniso said. “I think we may have referenced figures from previous years because we were told by the director of sports that not enough money was allocated for soccer. “But still, that [R519.000 allocated for soccer] is not enough, because we all know rugby has more sponsors than soccer, so they will be fine.” Speaking about the demographics of those in the university’s rugby teams – 62% are black – Daniso said: “Our focus is not the number of black players in teams but what positions they’re in.

“For instance, your wing, flyhalf, and so on, those are the positions that should also be occupied by black players. “The greatest number of black players are lower-ranked, so just because the majority of players are black, it does not mean they are always given the opportunity to showcase their talent.” DA Student Organisation (Daso) chairman Baxolile Nodada said Sasco was diverting from the real reason behind the protests. “During the previous [rugby] match, some Sasco members wanted to be in [the] VIP [area] and were denied access by security, so [Monday night’s incident] was just some form of revolt,” Nodada said. He also said it was the responsibility of the team to raise funds in the form of sponsorships. “We all know soccer is not as vigorous as rugby in seeking sponsorship,” he said. Daniso denied Nodada’s claim that Sasco simply wanted access to the VIP area, calling the claim a low blow. EFF Student Command general secretary Athenkosi Dayi said while it did not support Monday night’s violence, it supported Sasco’s call for transformation in sports at the university. “Black players are being undermined, so we’ll go with them to engage the director of sport on the issue,” Dayi said. NMU spokeswoman Zandile Mbabela said transformation plans were in the offing. “The issue of transformation is something that is on the agenda. There is a draft transformation plan that is undergoing a consultative process,” she said. The sports codes with the fewest black players at the university are underwater sports, with 0% black players, golf with 9% black players and 12.3% of the university’s cyclists are black.

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