Boks must scrap quotas – Guscott

South Africa must put an end to quotas if the Springboks are to avoid losing their status as a top-tier rugby nation, according to former England and British & Irish Lions centre Jeremy Guscott.

In a feature for The Rugby Paper, Guscott labelled South Africa’s decision to implement quotas as a “mistake”.

“In some ways I feel sorry for the South Africans,” he wrote. “They have to get rid of quotas and pick people on ability. That includes picking them from overseas if they want to compete at the highest level again. Otherwise, nothing will change.”

Under Allister Coetzee, the 2016 Boks produced the worst single-season record in team history, including milestone losses against Ireland, Argentina, Italy and Wales, and they followed that up in 2017 with the biggest loss, a 57-0 drubbing against the All Blacks in Albany, and their heaviest defeat against Ireland (38-3).

South Africa completed a four-Test tour of Europe in November with a 24-22 reverse against Wales.

“Ever since South Africa adopted a quota system for national team selection it was always going to throw up tough challenges in terms of getting their best team on the field,” Guscott noted. “Those difficulties were highlighted this autumn when the Springboks were overwhelmed by Ireland and then lost to Wales.

“South African rugby has enormous depth, but the reality is that their best players are not playing for the Springboks.

“With 350 top South African players in Europe and Japan the Springboks no longer have the luxury of picking their third choice – these days it’s more like having to make do with their twentieth choice.

“Imagine what having just their (English Premiership) contingent of Vincent Koch, Michael Rhodes, Willie Le Roux, Nizaam Carr, Juan de Jongh, Ashley Johnson, Cobus Reinach, Nic Groom, Demetri Catrakilis, Francois Louw, Ruan Ackermann and Faf de Klerk would do for them, let alone those South Africans in the Top 14 and PRO14.

“You have to be bright and intelligent to survive in pro sport, and the political interference that seems to come with the territory in South African rugby does not help.”

The 65-Test England centre also highlighted Coetzee’s dubious selections as a catalyst for the Boks’ poor results.

“There are still some great stories in South African rugby, and one of them involves Siya Kolisi. Kolisi is there on merit, and when Eben Etzebeth was replaced during the game against Wales he was promoted to captain. The good news is that Kolisi is using his high profile to help black and coloured youngsters to do what he has done, and is a great role model. What is also important is that he has been backing up his position with strong performances on the pitch.

“The other side of the coin is that you have to ask questions about some of the other selection decisions made by head coach Coetzee. For instance, what was he doing taking off flyhalf Handre Pollard in Cardiff and bringing on an inconsistent player like Elton Jantjies?

“Coetzee has to make good selection decisions… because a former great rugby nation is hanging on by its fingernails to Tier One status.”

- All Out Rugby Staff Writer

Let's chat

  • Barry Smith

    It is good to see that their is a clear understanding internationally of the issues we face! Though one should ask why World Rugby are not playing a role. Racial selection are against the international sporting code, but are blatantly overlooked!

  • dbaggins

    Selection based on race is wrong. Discrimination based on race to create an artificial picture of the playing population does not serve any purpose other than window dressing for politicians who do not have the games best interest at heart. No two ways about it. Added to that the players who are becoming professional at this stage are all “born frees”, yet the government wants to implement a new apartheid and oppression based on race.
    The only solution to really readdress the imbalance is a long term programme that can only be funded by government to do real development at grass roots level across the country in previously disadvantaged areas.
    The stumbling blocks to this is that the politicians and SARU are to incompetent & corrupt to do it and the current status suites the ruling parties narrative to fuel racial tension and promote hatred and fear which entrenches their position at the top.

    It requires the IRB to sanction the SA team and refuse them from playing as an international team and we need more ex pro’s like Guscott to speak out against this racist evil system.

  • Rant

    I have to disagree with the theory that “quotas” are ruining our rugby. Maybe the lower levels or the management levels but the on field teams this year have not been at all dominated by quota players. the last match featured only 3 “players of colour”?! The issue is the coaching staff and their terrible selections.

    Rudi Paige, Lukhanyo Am, S’bu Nkosi, Warrick Gelant, Curwin Bosch and even Damien Willemse are all quality “players of colour” yet never got a real look in. Instead we had Ross Cronje, Jesse Kriel and Andries Coetzee playing underwhelming rugby all year without being dropped. No, we need to stop using quotas as an excuse, we have a young crop of brilliant world class players of ALL colours. Let’s not make this about race, but instead acknowledge the truth, our coaching staff and management are not up to it. They are the ones who aren’t world class who select average players expecting them to suddenly become world class despite the lack of good coaching at all levels.

    There are no racial selections in the current squad. Although the government stipulation of 50% should be scrapped as it is a racist guide and South Africa Rugby should be boycotted from the next world cups if it is forced. Simple as that. We all fought against apartheid, lets fight against any new racial divide. Equality for all!

    • hopeful

      I don’t think he’s only referring to current Springbok selections….and take into account the amount of players that have left due to the fact that they not only earn better but feel they are offered fair opportunity and unbiased or non-racial selection….there’s no political interference abroad……

      Can you justify Leyds, Skosan, Cassim, Rhule, and Mbonambi?

      And then there’s also players who are white that also don’t warrant selection like Kriel & Coetzee….

      Be fair in your assessment and acknowledge that there is political interference and Quota at play…..then also consider that this year was phase one in the quota selection process…rember SARU and the governments ultimatum…

      • Rant

        The assessment of the current demographic in the under performing Springbok team of 2017 is very fair. Having watched every minute of every match and seeing the likes of Paige et al being ignored for players clearly not international quality was an eye opener. Having screamed at the TV for certain poor players to be dropped or replaced and seeing the same faces making the same stupid mistakes was frustrating to say the least.

        I did not say there is no government directive, in fact I lambasted the directive for what it is.

        Be fair in your assessment in certain players as well. Half the mentioned players were good in Super Rugby and did not disappoint. I acknowledge your first point, hell it is the same reason I left SA and moved to England. I meet fellow South Africans here who have given up because there is far less racial discrimination here.

        I suggest you re-read my comment as I clearly only discuss the 30 squad members, or more specifically the 23 match day players. We can not look at it through our own biased glasses and say Messers Cronje and Kriel are there because they deserve it. Just like we all called for Rhule’s head after the 57-0 fiasco. We all need to be honest about the state of it all, and the sooner we drop the 50% player of colour government mandate, then the quicker we can stop saying certain players are their as quotas.

        Case in point your comment about Leyds and Mbonambi. Both have been good for the Stormers, and neither let the Boks down. But the issue I feel is that any player is judged first by their skin. That needs to stop. Let’s not use a player’s ethnicity as an example of being either good or bad. I don’t want people to say “Ooh Siya Kolisi is a good example of black guy doing well.” He is a fantastic Springbok and deserves it, don’t look at his skin.

        As I said, I acknowledge some of your points and I do not look at it with rose tinted glasses for any ethnicity. I am merely saying we need to stop looking at skin colour and for once actually be the rainbow nation. Drop all directives and government interference and for once work together.

  • Brendon Shields

    With better player management/coaching pathways/best-practice training methods we can deliver in 10 years a team with 15 Africans who can win a World Cup. In the absence of the above we sit with a half-arsed quota system not rooted in any science whatsoever.

    • Mike

      Define an ‘African’ for us please – cannot wait for your response.

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