The South African government has banned its own rugby federation from bidding on international rugby tournaments for what it termed as failure to provide enough slots for black players.
Other major sports federations banned from international bidding include Cricket South Africa, Athletics South Africa and Netball Africa. The ban means these sporting unions won’t have an opportunity to bid for or host any major international sports events for at least one year.
Announcing the ban on Monday, South Africa’s Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said only the football federation had met its obligations under the government’s directive for sports federations to reverse the effects of apartheid on sports in South Africa.
“It is not my intention to disrupt the momentum gained from the implementation of the Transformation Barometer and the global competitive edge of some federations and sports bodies. However, I’m mindful of the urgent task for federations to move with speed in the direction of providing quality of opportunities and access to the youth of our country,” the Minister said.
The South African rugby union had expressed its interest to host the Rugby World Cup tournament in 2023 but with this latest development, hopes of participating in this summer’s bidding process are minimal.
Before the last Rugby World Cup in 2015, a political party called South Africa’s Agency for New Agenda had filed an application to the High Court in Pretoria asking the government to prevent Springboks, South Africa’s rugby team, from participating in the tournament due to predominance of white players on the team.
In its application, the party also sought for the formation of a commission of inquiry to investigate the lack of transformation in South African rugby:
“We call upon your organization and council to take a stance and condemn, unreservedly, the continued exclusion and marginalization of black South Africans from the national team,” the party’s president Tshidiso Mokhoanatse wrote to SA’s rugby union.
The court, however, abandoned the application, asking the parties involved to have a discussion about the transformation in rugby.
Judge Ntendeya Mavundla also asked the interested parties to speed up the debate about the transformation as people were losing patience.
South Africa’s rugby CEO Jurie Roux has admitted that a lot still needs to be done in SA’s rugby sport, saying that the union has more work to do despite the enormous transformation that has happened within the sport over the last three years.
South Africa’s Springoks, which is largely made up of white players, holds the Rugby World Cup titles of 1995 and 2007.