SA Rugby’s plea to new Minister of Sports Gayton McKenzie

SA Rugby’s plea to new Minister of Sports Gayton McKenzie

South African Rugby Union president Mark Alexander has pleaded with newly-appointed Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture, Gayton McKenzie to immediately deal with the impasse in the running of school sports.

There is long-standing a deadlock between McKenzie's department and the Department of Basic Education over who is responsible for this portfolio, which has been neglected for many years.

Alexander, who was waxing lyrical about the success of schoolboys in the former Model C schools, says it remains a challenge for them to bring immediate change in public schools because of the red tape in running school sports in the country. 

"There are so many kids in the Eastern Cape that don't have access to nutrition and go to school without a decent meal. There are so many other Siya Kolisi's, if we can make a difference in those lives," said Alexander.

"That's why we need to find this school thing – kids must play sport in school, any kind of sport, it doesn't have to be rugby. It's important to have them playing sport because that makes our job easier.

"When we get them, the kid is at least doing [Physica Education] at school, we don't do Phys Ed at our public school. What happened to healthy mind and healthy body, yet we have a sugar tax? It doesn't make sense."

Over the past three decades, the two departments have been signing countless MOUs, which have yielded nothing, with ownships and rural areas hugely affected by this. 

It’s expected that, when SARU meets McKenzie, this is going to be a dominant topic, and Alexander says they’ve had these discussions in vain with the previous administration.

"Look, these are conversations we've been having for quite a while – until we sort out that sports [department] should control schoolboy rugby," he added.

"i'm still fighting to have normal public schools – not Model C or Private Schools – doing sport, because that's why we have our kids dying in shebeens and stuff like that."

READ: Springboks name record-breaking XV for second Ireland Test