The Springboks during the South African national rugby team captains media conference and team photo at Umhlanga on August 17 2018 in Durban. Picture: ANESH DEBIKY/GALLO IMAGES
The Springboks during the South African national rugby team captains media conference and team photo at Umhlanga on August 17 2018 in Durban. Picture: ANESH DEBIKY/GALLO IMAGES

Union federation Cosatu has launched yet another attack on SA 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 line-up 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. However‚ he will be assessed on his target over the entire season and not in individual matches.

In a statement, Cosatu said it was "speaking on behalf of many rugby players in SA 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 line-up for Saturday is a reversal to white preference players‚ which exposes his attitude towards black players."

Cosatu also criticised Erasmus’s decision to substitute black hooker Bongi Mbonambi after only 34 minutes against Australia last week. It 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’s statement 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 [at] 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 they have 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’s headquarters for selling its 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.

At the time of Brits’s selection in June‚ Cosatu said the sport belonged to all South Africans.

"We cannot allow [Springbok coach] Rassie [Erasmus] to make irrational decisions to advance old white interest. We accept that he is the coach and must be allowed to follow his game plan‚ but [clearly] irrational decisions‚ that benefit white players ahead of form black players‚ have to be examined‚" the union said then.

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

Cosatu claimed in a statement at the time that a "Stellenbosch mafia" in cahoots with SA Rugby runs rugby. "It is clear from the developments in the game that the cabal made up of SuperSport and the South African Rugby Union (Saru) are pushing old white interests. The Stellenbosch mafia are also involved in the manipulation of the sport."

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