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Non-round ball, Rugby

Springboks need the “Prophet of Doom”

Dark times indeed in the Springbok camp.

Coach Allister Coetzee himself has admitted to enduring the “darkest moment” of his coaching career.

It seems the only hope for the much maligned Springboks is the Limpopo “Prophet of Doom” – only he can provide the healing needed for this team that has sunk to new lows during the 2016 calendar year. The annus horribilis is worth repeating just so we all know how bad the situation is:

  1. Lost at home to Ireland.
  2. Lost away to Argentina.
  3. Biggest ever loss to the All Blacks and biggest ever loss at home.
  4. First loss to England in 13 Test matches.
  5. First loss ever to Italy.

Naturally, many are quick to point the finger directly at Coetzee for the shambles of this international rugby season. Certainly, Coetzee should take his fair share of the blame for the debacle, but there are many other factors that have contributed to the demise of SA rugby.

One of these factors is the (lack of real) transformation in South African rugby which a mate of mine, Avukile Mabombo, summarised  very well in a Facebook post:

Due to this failure to actually execute the right policies at the right levels, transformation has become the easy scape goat for everything that is currently happening. Like Alistair Coetzee brought in quotas. We had quotas when we lost to Japan last year. We had quotas when we beat the All Blacks 3 times in one year. We had quotas when we lost to Argentina and we certainly had quotas when we lifted the World Cup in 2007.

It’s going to be a long road to redemption for the Springboks. All I know is that many South Africans will want to move forward and put the 2016 year in the rearview mirror.

You can read the rest of Avukile’s post here (which I have pasted below with his permission):

Pop quiz: Name one Springbok coach in the last 20yrs that didn’t spend every day of his job on the verge of being fired? I mean you fired Jake White fresh from winning the Rugby World Cup.

What we are experiencing right now in Springbok rugby is the inevitable culmination of the joke that is our entire rugby system. Not dissimilar however to the #ZumaMustFall campaign I find that a lot of people are very one dimensional about this situation when it’s a lot more complex then that. Alistair and transformation did not get us here.

There are a few things that we need to acknowledge about our current situation. Ten to be exact. Lend me your ears.

1. Our style of rugby has long expired:
In Xhosa we call it “ukubalelwa”. We have no new tricks in the bag and the ENTIRE rugby playing world knows this. Japan and Italy losses a clear example of this. As you can see from the Lion’s success, the only SA team not playing like a SA team. Kopper stamp game plans are long gone.
This is not Alistair’s fault. There’s only so much coaching you can do at Springbok level. If you are getting half baked players from provinces, you can’t just glaze them over and make them world beaters.

2. Address the Union issue:
SARU is not running SA Rugby, the Unions are. Until we address this issue it is impossible to move forward. Look at New Zealand rugby. It works because no one is more important than the All Blacks. The system is geared to ensure the All Blacks succeed first and foremost. Everyone buys into a style or playing and coaching and this is filtered through all the levels. If an All Black coach wants to groom a player in a certain position, his club doesn’t just put him where they want. They work together.
Here provinces look after themselves and it’s as if cooperation equals losing the grip of power they have over rugby in SA. I’m not sure anyone of us can really grasp how deep this power goes because it looks like the Unions is a territory not even our outspoken Minister of Sport dates to venture into. Which is why he is so hell bent on cracking the transformation whip at SARU and very conveniently side steps the Unions.

3. The Currie Cup and Super rugby franchises need to be protected:
Now this is not in contradiction to my point above. What I basically mean is that we need to ensure we keep our best players playing in our local teams. We can’t build any type of playing identity if our best players are all over the place. This is obviously much tougher to solve because it’s ultimately about money. Money which we will struggle to match seeing what players are earning in England, France and now Japan.
Just to give some context, at the end of 2015 we had 280 of our players with overseas clubs. At the end of this year’s Super Rugby season we lost another 45 players.

4. Alistair is probably weaker than we thought:
It’s a very harsh call but there is a reason foreign coaches and a lot of other good coaches don’t want the Springbok job. It’s because they don’t want to deal with SARU’s crap or SARU knows they can’t control them. SARU couldn’t even convince some top coaches to attend their recent Coaching Indaba because they don’t take SARU seriously.
It’s clear Alistair got the job because he could be controlled. He is a great coach with tons of experience and accolades but he compromised himself by allowing himself to be a puppet. I don’t see any of his experience coming across in this team. It’s like he’s just there to take the heat at press conferences. Which leads me to my next point

5. The Springbok support staff selection process was flawed:
Hands up if you think Alistair got the support staff he would have chosen for himself.
I get the feeling the support team was put together through a series of compromises. The problem with compromising is that whilst it negates conflict, no one actually really gets what they want and you never have a true, clear identity.
Mathew Proudfoot, worked with Alistair at The Stormers and in Japan. Appointed to be in charge of the Springbok forwards but only within the realm of scrums and breakdown. Even though Mathew is scrum coach, there’s also still Pieter de Villiers from Heyneke Meyer era who apparently is still also consulting on scrums.
Johann van Graan, son of the Blue Bulls Chief Executive and another Heyneke Meyer hand me down who has been credited by Meyer as being the brains behind the Springbok’s attacking style….
I’m just gonna let you marinate over that one.
Mzwandile Stick. Guided the Kings u19 team to their first ever championship title before becoming Southern Kings backline coach. We know how that panned out.
Bantu basekhaya bendicela sithethe sodwa nje umzuzwana. Inyani mayithethwe madoda. Sonke sothuka ngezi ndaba. Futhi sasiyazi ngoko ukuba uStick wayengeka vuthwa ncam ukupatha amabokoko. Kodwa iinkani zethu zazingasobe ziyivume lento. UStick ngewayeqhube nezantwana ze under 19. Zilahlwe nje ngoku akukho continuation. Sizakubuyela emva ngoku iphinde ibesithi abakhalayo xa kungaphumi talente. Inkani iyabetha ngamanye amaxesha.

So basically in a nutshell our Springbok coaching staff selection was a wedding. Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. Awesome.

6. Oh captain my captain:
Let’s be honest, in the past the Springbok captain has always been a fairly easy option. Even if some of us might not have initially liked the option but the choice made sense. I’m not sure Adriaan Strauss is as obvious a choice as we’ve had in the past. Looking from the outside in, we can never know the real dynamics of the team but I also struggle to see him pulling the team together. He seems like a nice guy but from my opinion a bit of an incidental choice through lack of options rather than clear choice.

7. The T word:
Now anyone who knows me well or even listen ones to me on Eusebius’ radio show with know that I don’t believe the application of quotas in SA Rugby is correct. Let me emphasize that, APPLICATION and not principle. We can’t be focused on quotas at Springbok level when the people enforcing them have no idea what is happening at the levels below. Transformation is not an exchange of green jersey’s so politicians can tap themselves on the back. It’s a systematic change from the ground up. It’s a change firstly in mindset, the policies, actions and habits. We haven’t even got the first step right yet we think the Springbok team is transformed by forcing selections onto coaches.

Out of the 33 man touring squad for the end of year tour these are the 11 players of colour included.
Bongi Mbonambi, Oupa Mohoje, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Damian de Allende, Bryan Habana, Elton Jantjies, Lionel Mapoe, Rudy Paige, Sergeal Petersen, JP Pietersen. (Nizaam Carr late edition)
Now what do you think is the collective game time of all these players? Some of them won’t even get a total of 20mins throughout the whole tour. Once again it’s a compromise that serves no one.

Due to this failure to actually execute the right policies at the right levels, transformation has become the easy scape goat for everything that is currently happening. Like Alistair Coetzee brought in quotas. We had quotas when we lost to Japan last year. We had quotas when we beat the All Blacks 3 times in one year. We had quotas when we lost to Argentina and we certainly had quotas when we lifted the World Cup in 2007.
It’s very convenient for some factions to just squarely put the blame on transformation policies (see point number 2) because like said, the mindset still has not moved past step one.
If you think that quotas are to blame for the current situation then you are deluded because I can name a 15 man team made up entirely of players of colour that would put bonus points on Italy any day of the week.

8. Fikile is not helping:
It’s funny on the odd occasion but our Minister of Sport really does lack the maturity to adequately deal with some of these issues. Trending on twitter can’t be your only hustle. There is some good that he has done within sport but this gets over shadowed by the circus. Never has anyone ever needed the advise of “A wise man once said nothing” than Mbaks. Take that Sunette Viljoen Olympics payment issue for instance.
I’m not saying that politics and sport should not mix because sometimes without that interference people get comfortable with the status quo. However as far as our Minister’s handling of rugby I think there’s too much shine and not enough graft being done. If he is serious about transformation then he needs to go the full Monty, from the ground up and not just want to pose with black players in green jerseys.

9. The players on the field are getting off lightly:
A lot has been said about everything and everyone besides the buggers that run onto the field every week. Ultimately it’s them that win and lose a match. These are experienced players earning big money to basically do a job and they are the last people that seem to get the heat. Who’s to blame for Willie Le Roux’s shocking kicking decisions or Ruan Combrinck’s passing? When the All Blacks put 50 points on us the Boks missed 40 tackles in that match. 40!!! That’s a missed tackle every 2 minutes and we had possession 33% of the time. So who’s to blame for that. During that Italy game they looked like they were over playing rugby. The body language and hunger was just not there. Leadership obviously is a big part of it but individually these guys need to get serious about life.

10. The Springbok fans
Stop backing a player just because he is black. Stop discriminating against every black player selected in the team like he can’t do the job. There have been kak black players selected for the Springboks and kak white ones. Learn to put the team first because it’s all you have. The debates will and must continue but the dialogue over the past few weeks has been so depressingly divisive. The narrow minded perspective some of us have is shocking and no solutions can come of it.

On Saturday is a new game. Whether you like the team or the captain or the coach just support the team. If we have the team’s interest at heart then maybe our mindset and those in charge of rugby will start to change and we can start to tackle real issues and solutions and not managing racially motivated squabbles.”






About Ticha Pfupajena

I'm beginning to get the sense that my career as a professional footballer may not happen. As a result, I'll try write about football and sports instead....


One thought on “Springboks need the “Prophet of Doom”

  1. Welcome back!

    Posted by Shathiso | 22/11/2016, 17:46

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