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South Africa delay controversial quota system
ESPN Staff
April 16, 2014
Jean de Villiers receives the trophy from sports minister Fikile Mbalula, South Africa v Samoa, Pretoria, June 22, 2013
Not the shy and retiring type, Fikile Mbalula has a reputation for caring more about show than substance © Getty Images
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Controversial proposals in South Africa to re-introduce quotas into a number of sports, including rugby, have been delayed, according to a report in Beeld.

Fikile Mbalula, the country's sports minister, had demanded the immediate implementation of proposals which would have meant all teams had to have at least 60% black or coloured players. He said any organisation refusing to fall into line would have all central funding withdrawn and could be prevented from taking part in international competitions.

None of South Africa's five Super Rugby franchises come close to the required quotas, nor does the national side which has never had quotas strictly imposed on it.

Mbalula met with representatives from athletics, cricket, football, netball and rugby in Johannesburg and told them that "after 20 years of our democracy, we should be ashamed of ourselves that there are still fundamental fault lines in society".

Although Mbalula reluctantly accepted the delay, he attacked the press for being critical of the plans. "So far the media has been very sensational about the whole issue," he said. "They are a bunch of losers."

The South African board is caught between a rock and a hard place. There are simply not enough players of sufficient quality to meet the required quotas, although it is trying to do all it can to appease the government with regulation changes at lower levels.

However, quotas contravene the IRB regulations which prohibit selection on racial grounds, and Mbalula's proposals may not even be legal under his own country's laws.

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