South African Rugby Union (Saru) president Oregan Hoskins yesterday dropped a bombshell by agreeing to relinquish his right to veto the Springbok squad if he was not pleased with it.
Zeena Isaacs writes in the Business Day that Hoskins’ decision means he would no longer have a say in the selection of the national squad.
This uncharacteristic move followed a request by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers’ agent, former SA Rugby MD Rian Oberholzer, at a meeting with incumbent SA Rugby MD Jonathan Stones last Friday.
While the decision could save Hoskins from unnecessary government pressure regarding the racial makeup of the squad — should he retain his position as president after next month’s election — it would compound the existing pressures on De Villiers.
As things stand, De Villiers is under immense pressure to live up to high public expectations — after former Bok coach Jake White guided the team to the World Cup victory — and to prove that his appointment was not purely political.
News of Hoskins’ decision to give up his selection powers came days after the ugly spat in Cricket SA’s boardroom in which the president overruled the squad submitted by the national selectors and tried to remove the coach from the selection panel because he objected to complaints about the racial makeup of the squad.
Oberholzer also requested that the national selectors be stripped of their right to assist in the selection of the squad, with their roles being reduced to identifying talented players.
However, this request could result in a battle with Saru as the role of the national selectors is stated in Saru’s constitution.
Asked what the motivation was behind these requests, Oberholzer said: “It is unfair for a coach to be held responsible for poor results if he does not select the team. So we would like Hoskins’ right to veto the squad to be removed and for the selectors to assist only in identifying talented players.”
Hoskins was surprisingly open to the request and said he had informed Stones yesterday about his decision to withdraw from all matters relating to selection.
“I am happy not to be involved in team selection or to sign off the team,” said Hoskins.
“I am pleased for the coach to have the sole say in matters. His agent is pushing for that and I am not going to stand in his way.”
He added: “The coach wants to take full responsibility for the team because he feels he cannot be judged on a team he did not select and I understand and admire that. But he must understand that it comes with extra responsibility.”
Hoskins explained that the presidents’ right to veto the team was not in the constitution, but rather a matter of courtesy toward the president.
Hoskins, however, said he had asked a provincial union to send through a request to have a third national selector, who is black, to have a demographically representative panel.
Stones agreed whole-heartedly with Hoskins saying he understood Oberholzer’s concerns about De Villiers being held accountable for bad results if he did not select the team and said he did not want a repeat of the recent drama in cricket.
Stones, however, said the request to reduce the selectors’ powers to identifying talented players would not be easy.
“That is a Saru matter, not an SA Rugby matter ,” said Stones.
“I want Peter’s contract signed. But in some respects my hands are tied. The presidents’ council has to approve constitutional matters,” he said.Tweet