Cosatu plays rough with Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus

Black players undermined and ‘treated as second-class’, it claims on eve of match against New Zealand

Rassie Erasmus
Rassie Erasmus
Image: Gallo Images

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has launched yet another attack on South African rugby‚ this time accusing Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus of treating black players “like second-class citizens”.

The Springboks take on the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday with a team that has three black players in the starting lineup and is captained by flank Siya Kolisi‚ who is black.

There are eight black players in the 23-man match squad.

Erasmus has a 45% transformation target this season‚ which has to reach 50% in 2019.

His starting lineup for Saturday is a reversal to white preference players‚ which exposes his attitude towards black players

However‚ he will be assessed on his target over the entire season and not in individual matches.

Cosatu said it was‚ “speaking on behalf of many rugby players in South Africa who are enraged by the choices made by Rassie” for Saturday’s Test.

“Rassie has been treating the black Springbok players as second-class this entire year.

“His starting lineup for Saturday is a reversal to white preference players‚ which exposes his attitude towards black players‚” the union continued.

Cosatu also criticised Erasmus’s decision to substitute black hooker Bongi Mbonambi after only 34 minutes against Australia last week.

The union also gave its assessments of various Bok players’ form.

“The white players are given special places in the Springbok team ahead of the form black players‚” Cosatu said.

“Francois Louw has been playing poorly‚ Handré Pollard has been playing poorly and Willie le Roux has been playing poorly.

“Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk has been playing poorly‚ yet they are not substituted when there are talented form players on the bench.

“Mbonambi is substituted on 35 minutes‚ which is entirely irrational and designed to undermine him. Many black players, when they do get a chance on the field, are played out of their positions to deny them the prospect to bring their best skills.”

The only player operating out of position this weekend is Jesse Kriel‚ normally a centre‚ who is on the wing in place of the injured Makazole Mapimpi.

SA Rugby declined to comment as it has a policy of not reacting to opinion.

Cosatu has a pattern of striking out at rugby at strategic times.

In 2017‚ three days before the Boks played New Zealand in Cape Town‚ Cosatu threatened to protest at SA Rugby headquarters for selling rights to pay-channel SuperSport.

In June‚ when Erasmus selected 37-year-old white hooker Schalk Brits on the bench for the third Test against England‚ Cosatu also commented on team selection.

“We cannot allow Rassie [Erasmus] to make irrational decisions to advance old white interest, Cosatu said then.

Cosatu also waded into an on-air TV incident where analyst Ashwin Willemse stormed off set‚ saying that he was being undermined by white panellists Nick Mallett and Naas Botha.

The union confederation then claimed a “Stellenbosch mafia”, in cahoots with SA Rugby, ran rugby.