South Africa’s provincial teams competing in the annual Vodacom Cup tournament will have to field a minimum number of black players starting next year, according to the South African Rugby Union.
“All 14 provincial teams will be required to pick a minimum of seven black players in their matchday squads, two of whom must be forwards,” Cape Town-based SARU said in a statement today. “A minimum of five black players will be required to start.”
The Vodacom Cup is South Africa’s third-largest rugby tournament after Super Rugby and the Currie Cup. Young players typically appear in the Vodacom Cup before being selected for Super Rugby or the national squad, the Springboks. During apartheid, the country’s rugby teams were almost uniformly whites-only. Since then South African cricket and rugby teams have been urged to promote black players with quotas introduced in 1999 and then withdrawn again in 2004 amid controversy.
“The intended outcome is an increased pool of black talent from which Currie Cup and Super Rugby coaches can select and, in due course, more options for the Springbok coach,” Oregan Hoskins, president of SARU, said in the statement. No penalties have been set up for teams that don’t meet the new criteria, according to the governing body.
South Africa today announced the Springbok squad that will take on Argentina in Soweto, southwest of Johannesburg, on Aug. 17. Three black players, including Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira in the number 1 jersey, are in the starting lineup, with another black player among the replacements.