South Africa rugby to include seven non-white players

Tendai Mtawarira in action for South Africa against Wales
Prop Tendai Mtawarira was the only black player to start South Africa's last Test against Wales

South Africa will include seven non-white players in their 23-man match squads ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

At least two of the seven selections must be black Africans, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) said.

The selection criteria forms part of a plan to "raise black representation"external-link with non-whites making up half of all domestic and national teams by 2019.

SARU chief executive Jurie Roux stressed the move to expand black participation is "not a quota system".

"It's not just about numbers on the field", he said of the board's Strategic Transformation Plan.

Referring to government pressure for racial transformation, he added: "We know that we are only judged on representation in the Springbok team.

"We understand that, and we also understand that it is also unfair to put that pressure on the Springbok coach without offering him any assistance.

"His teams can only reflect what is going on at the elite end of the domestic game."

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer has been criticised for recalling veteran white players

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer's last team selection against Wales in November contained only one black African, prop Tendai Mtawarira.

Zimbabwe-born Mtawarira, 29, is injury prone and his fitness may not necessarily be guarantee him future selection.

World Cup winning winger and 2007 World Rugby Player of the Year Bryan Habana is a mixed race player.

Meyer's first selection under the new system will come against a World XV in Cape Town on 11 July.

South Africa then face Australia, New Zealand and Argentina in the Rugby Championship before travelling to the World Cup in England in September.

Apart from the Springboks national side, the SARU's target of 50% black representation by 2019 would apply to national sevens, youth and schoolboy teams and to the Currie Cup, the national inter-provincial rugby competition.

Cricket in post apartheid South Africa has a long-running history of racial quotas for selection.

In the current domestic franchise and provincial competitions, there must be at least five and six non-white players (Indian, mixed-race or black) respectively.

A quota for the national team of two non-white players was removed in 2007.