Dear Mr President of Saru
I do apologise for not adressing this letter to you in person but as you are aware no one in South Africa knows who you are.
After mr Hoskins decided that he does not need all the shit in his life, we will most probably have to wait nine months for his successor to be named. With the birth of a baby after nine months of pregnancy all concerned is excited to see how the new arrival looks and everybody are hoping for a bright future for the new born.
Unfortunately we as rugby supporters do not share that same excitement. You will most probably wear nice suits with no hope of a bright future, that is for rugby. You will do as is expected from you by the people that ordered your election. Knowing that sooner or later you will be replaced by another one. He will most probably not be better than you but he will also want to please his supporters, until he is replaced.
Let me be brutally honest sir. I hope, no maybe I need to be honest, I pray that you will be a respected man that loves rugby. A gentleman that will see his primary task as President to serve the game, and not to serve people with ulterior motives. I do not care what colour you are sir, as long as your motives are honourable.
My generation was raised to control our emotions. We were told to be seen and not to be heard, to carry out orders without question and to respect our seniors. We were told to know our place in society, and only to speak when we were spoken to. But today I must speak sir. Today I need you to listen.
I do not know if you know who we are. I am sure if you really try you will remember us. We are the parents of the school boys who play the game called rugby. Yes sir we are the ones waking up before sunrise to get everything ready for a day filled with whistles, sweat, some swear words and hopefully a lot of tries and victories.
We are the ones who will pinch money from our 10% contribution to the church, in order to hire a decent coach for our boys. In the average schools today the male teacher is becoming as endangered as the rhino's. But unfortunately we do not have the same buying power as the game farmers do, to ensure that the best genes are used to save the rhino. Most of the "gentleman" employed these days in our schools are worried more about the highlights in his hair than the rules of engagement in rugby.
We were the generation taught to behave. We were not allowed the freedom to become upset or maybe even protest. "Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir".
When our attempts are summarily dismissed as the main reason for the Springbok's failures, you do not even attempt to defend us and our efforts. You rather join the choir who faults our efforts in a hope that the world will not see SARU's hands in the failure of the Springboks and South African rugby as a whole. Is it not strange, that the very people and institutions that makes an excellent living out of rugby are the one's who blames those who are involved with rugby for the love of it? Blame the parents, blame the school rugby coaches, they are easy targets and will not become upset or even protest. They are scared.
Your generation will be remembered as the one that changed rugby forever. You decided that rugby must be professional. Now it is up to you how you will be remembered. The generation that wrecked rugby in South Africa or the generation that made rugby a sport loved by all.
You can sit back in that fancy leather chair of yours and claim the following rugby terms:
- Rugby Elite - This is where you fit in sir? A few gentleman that controls the lives of a thousand or two who are actively involved with rugby. But that power is simply not enough. You want to, and are controlling the emotions of a few million rugby supporters in this country. You are expecting us parents to place our boys and their future in your hands. If you see the trail of "white bones" you are leaving behind you every day, please understand our hesitance.
- Rugby Union High Performance Managers - These gentleman are the handlers of the "Rugby Agents". They must ensure that the Rugby Unions acquire the best players at the cheapest price. His other strategy, to ensure his Union's dominance is to "purchase" as many of the top talent he can afford with his budget. He does not really care if these players are used or developed. He only wants to ensure that the other unions will not be able to "purchase" them in order to become competitive.
- Rugby Agents - Those are the people who sits next to the school rugby fields who do not care about our children.They have no problem in uprooting a child for his own benefit. They prey on the parents who can not provide "properly" for their children. Promises of money and fame will be their first guarantee to the parents. What they will not tell the parents is that they do not care who he "sells" their children to. The child's future is of no concern to him because if your child "fails" to earn him an income he will simply discard him like an over ripe tomato and move on to the next "lucky" one.
The term "rugby schools" however, I must admit you can not claim. These are the schools, mostly boys schools who see themselves as rugby royalty. Any other school that does not bend a knee before asking a chance to speak, is summarily ignored. Any school that uses the same "tactics" that they use to develop rugby in order to compete against "rugby schools" is simply brushed aside. Their efforts is exposed as evil and competition against them is denied.
The "rugby schools" normally hide their "sins" using an extensive "Old Boys" network. I hear whispers that these "rugby schools" plan to establish their own competition. Excluding the new schools and those "rugby schools" that misbehaved. With this they apparently plan to hijack the top talent. "If you do not play the best you can not call yourselves the champion" scenario?
A thorough assessment of school boy rugby competitions and derby's is vital to ensure fairer competition as schools that may have been "rugby schools" undergo demographic and generational change. We see an increase of games where there are 50-point margins. Some schools have been applying a mercy rule but that does not stop the humiliation the losing team must endure.
There are some schools where rugby doesn't have the same influence it did 30 years ago, because of the make-up of the school. Maybe the traditional competitions are meant to be restructured so there's a better balance of who's playing who. Maybe the introduction of a performance based league system where promotion and relegation takes place is the solution. That will reward the hard working school and children.
We are the ones who must explain to our sons why they do not get selected for the Craven Week sides. I must admit that I do not do a lot of reading, but whenever I get hold of the programme of the most recent Craven Week I study it and learn all the names of the players. This I do in order to get an extensive knowledge of the "stars" of the Currie Cup sides of next year.
The reason why these boys get pushed through the system is a source for a new letter at a later date. We call them the Huisgenoot generation. First "Rugby School" 1st team then Craven Week, Huisgenoot, Currie Cup and then moer toe. Never to be heard of again. But I must let you know that we miss the "hardebaarde" of yesterday. We miss the Springboks fighting for their province's honour. We miss queuing for tickets for the Currie Cup final, cadac skottelbraai and a few quarts.
But back to the Craven Week programme. I can not help to become just a bit annoyed to note that at the 2016 Craven Week only two of twenty three boys picked for the Sharks is coming from "normal schools".Two from the Bulls side comes from "normal schools". Also two from the Lions team and one from the Free State. Province's "other" school representatives is one less than an average Stormer supporter's teeth, One.
This insanity can not be good for rugby. It would be wise if you have a broader base and offer opportunities to people outside of the "rugby schools" system and know that people outside of that system, if they are identified and have talent, there is a pathway for them to get to professional rugby without having to go to a "rugby school".
We were raised in an era where "us" and "them" was used to differentiate between white and black. And still today we find ourselves in that same situation.
The only difference now, is that "them" is the normal South African, white and black who want to see their sons play rugby. "Them" is the parents who want to see their children being allowed to play against any school who is of a similar strength. "Them" is the parents who want their children to have the same opportunities as "us" and their children.
But you are too busy to please the old "them" to care about the new "them". Let me make it 100% clear to you, the people you are trying to please are not interested in the well being of rugby. If the Springboks win they are where the TV cameras are, with big smiles. If the Springboks lose they sit with their expensive whiskey and celebrate their victory.
It is widely accepted that it is easier to please the old "them". They are happy if the selection of a team reflects their current wishes. They do not care if rugby is played in the old "them" townships. They do not care how many of our sons leave South Africa for a place where talent and hard work is the only criteria for selection. They simply do not care. But unfortunately sir, pardon me if I am wrong, but neither do you.
It is understood that SARU's only involvement with school boy rugby is the organising of the national weeks during July. But since Australia, New Zeeland and the United Kingdom are currently looking at the same issues, experiencing the same problems. Maybe it is in the interest of rugby in South Africa that you got involved too.
And yes sir you are correct if you think I am "Gatvol". "Gatvol" is such a nice descriptive word and is used by all South Africans But back to "Gatvol". History teaches us that when the common people is "Gatvol" a revolution is on hand. Our previous government made a large portion of "them" very "Gatvol" and we know what was the result.
When we send our children to play rugby for other countries see that as our protest. When your stadiums is empty during provincial matches because our best players are playing overseas, see that as our revolt. . When "ons sal lewe, ons sal sterwe, ons vir jou Suid Afrika." has lost its meaning and test matches does not attract spectators see that as our revenge.
P.S. If you wonder what Hup SARU Hup means. It was seen on a Dutch supporters bus during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Hup Holland Hup is a Dutch Football Song that encourages their team to perform.
Hup Holland Hup
Laat de leeuw niet in zijn hempie staan
Hup Holland Hup
Trek het beesie geen pantoffels aan
Hup Holland Hup
Laat je uit 't veld niet slaan
Want de leeuw op voetbalschoenen
Durft de hele wereld aan
Unfortunately it did not helped as their supporters left South Africa "gatvol" after their team's defeat by Spain in the final, not able to win a wold cup after three attempts.
The photo is not meant to have any meaning or suggests any proposed action. I just used it because us rugby supporters are in need of something "nice".