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n South African Journal of Sports Medicine - Playing time between senior rugby players of different ethnic groups across all levels of South African rugby, 2007 - 2011 : original research
Background. The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has had a continual challenge to make the game representative of players of all ethnic groups at all levels of play. In response to this challenge SARU has implemented several programmes designed to accelerate the development of players from previously disadvantaged areas with the goal of making the game more representative. However, the success of these programmes to transform the player profile at different levels of rugby cannot be evaluated because the players representing different ethnic groups have not been quantified in a systematic way.
Objectives. To quantify the number and playing time of South African professional players (Vodacom, Currie Cup, Super Rugby and Springboks) from different ethnic groups from 2007 to 2011 to determine whether there are any changes in the profile of the players over this period.
Methods. Playing time was recorded for all players in sanctioned matches. Players were divided into the ethnic classifications used by SARU (i.e. white, coloured and black).
Results. At all levels of competition there were proportionally more white players, followed by coloured players and then black players. This pattern did not change from 2007 to 2011. Based on the ratio of number of players v. playing time, the white players played more time than expected at the Springbok level, whereas the black players played less than expected for the number of players from 2007 to 2011. At the Vodacom level the white players played more than expected in 2007 and 2008 and played less than expected in 2010 and 2011, whereas the black players played more than expected in 2010 and the coloured players played more than expected at the 2011 tournament. The Super Rugby tournament had the most consistency between players and expected playing time for the different ethnic groups.
Conclusions. Despite the effort to support players from disadvantaged backgrounds since 1998 with facilitative programmes and selection targets, the professional game is still dominated by white players at all levels.
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