Rugby Union: President calls for `mixed race' bias

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The Independent Online
SOUTH AFRICA'S top rugby official, Silas Nkanunu, said yesterday that the Springboks' World Cup squad should be more racially representative and team selection needed to take into account the injustices of apartheid.

Nkanunu, the first black president of the South African Rugby Football Union, said he wanted future national teams to include more black players, helped by a selection policy based on "merit with bias".

"Sarfu has said it would like to send a more representative team to the World Cup and that teams need to reflect the country when it leaves our shores," Nkanunu said.

The squad for the World Cup, which starts in Wales on 1 October and the Tri-Nations tournament against Australia and New Zealand, would be discussed at a meeting of Sarfu's 13-member executive next month in Cape Town, Nkanunu said. Sarfu would also be talking with the three national team selectors in coming weeks about the issue, he added.

The racial make-up of South Africa's national rugby team has come under the spotlight after a nearly all-white team toured Britain late last year, matching New Zealand's record of 17 consecutive Test victories. All 22 players who featured in the Tests against England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales were white.

Black players were only seen in midweek, regional and club games on the British tour and have made little headway in South Africa's premier domestic provincial competition, the Currie Cup, or the Super 12 tournament.

The Sports Minister, Steve Tshwete, has already said he would be unable to support an all, or nearly all-white, squad if it went to the cricket World Cup.