An open letter to Ollie le Roux from Saru Sacos legends
It is thus a bit perplexing that you would be so glib to go and reminisce about an exclusionary past symbol and history, flouting it in the public domain, let alone the international arena.
The debate of whether anybody that did not play in the international arena is equipped to coach a national team has reared its head on many occasions here and abroad and I see you make mention of it again in your evaluation on Allister.
I may not be the expert on this but as a simpleton would want to know the logic of this narrative you so boldly exclaimed in the article.
I find this hard to fathom, as former Springboks John Williams, Harry Viljoen, Rudolph Strauelli, Carel du Plessis etc were all Springboks and though not wishing to be vindictive and besmirch their good names, similarly did not fare so well as Springbok coaches either.
On the contrary, the Springboks possibly had some of the lowest win percentages under some of their tutelage. It is, however, astonishing to note that another former Springbok coach, Peter de Villiers – another former SARU SACOS player – had an outstanding record.
In scrutinising the latter’s performance as coach and also taking into account the quality of the opposition he played against you find him to be the last Springbok coach to win against the All Blacks, home and away.
And oh yes Peter similarly did not play for the Springboks either, the primary factor you raise against Allister’s fitness to coach the national rugby team.
I, therefore, think the conundrum we find ourselves in and which you raise leads us to the conclusion that we should maybe forsake our pre-1992 Springbok history.
This narrative was based on exclusion, discrimination, prejudice and racism where the likes of Allister and Peter de Villiers as well as so many other gifted individuals in our stable were denied the opportunities to showcase their God-given talents on the international stage.
The retainment of the Springbok symbol was a conciliatory mechanism, though against great consternation in the non-racial camp that was not wholly in favour of continuing to use it as the national South African rugby emblem.
This notion of being a Springbok to be national coach brings forth subdued hurt and is a kick in the face of the goodwill from those who bore the brunt of prejudice and takes us back to the pre-1992 era.
It was only through the timely intervention of our late former president, Nelson Mandela, at the time that intervened and requested our support by government for the Springbok to be retained.
I, therefore, believe that when you use the Springbok representation and roll call as a yardstick for being elected as the coach then it smacks of gross insensitivity.
I do not think we all would wish to be taken back to our turbulent past and in the same vein disqualify the incumbent Springbok coach and the majority rugby establishment which include many gifted coaches who did not play for the Springboks for the reasons listed.
I, therefore, think you would agree with me that if this symbol, with its contentious past, is now used as criteria for coaching the national team then it becomes a divisive symbol and might as well be ditched in its entirety as a matter of conscience.
I would similarly have wanted to debate this domestic issue with you in our local media, as we South Africans often want to do, but since you have now given it an international flavour I was poised to do same.