Straight talk with Tobias



October 19, 2016
Straight talk with Tobias

MAN WITH A PLAN: Errol Tobias

Ex-Bok has a plan to save SA rugby.

Today is D-day for the guys at Saru where a number of rugby experts will gather in Cape Town to find a way to stop the Springbok from bleeding out.

The Daily Voice spoke to legendary Springbok flyhalf Erroll Tobias, the first ever player of colour to don the Green and Gold, to get his insights into exactly what needs to be done to fix the national team.

Rugby indaba

“The fact that the indaba has been called, shows that the top structure doesn’t have their master plan in order. To come to the public [for help] confirms that.”

He also believes that the event shouldn’t be used to paper over the cracks and that some tough calls will have to be made.

Tobias adds: “It [the current situation of the Springboks] is a worrying situation, we can go back and forth on why in the time of Jake White they had the same structures and why he could win the World Cup and then why this coach [Allister Coetzee] and his coaching staff are struggling.

“The question is if Saru is going to make the tough decision, or are they just going to smooth over the public?”

The business side of things

“I believe there should be some fresh blood at the top [of the South African Rugby Union]. And that’s why [interim president] Mark Alexander is reportedly set to come in as the new president.

“It’s a necessary change. We have to earn more trust in terms of our sponsors.

“We also have to look at [bringing in] big businesses like PricewaterhouseCoopers [that can bring their] financial management [to the table].”

Player exodus

“We have to scale down a bit [in terms of player numbers].

“It should be quality over quantity.

“The blueprint should empower certain players and Saru has to contract 40 players. And they have to manage them.

“We can’t have a situation again where you sit with Bismarck du Plessis and John Smit – two of the best hookers in the world at the time – at one province and wonder who is going to start.

“They have to make sure that they contract the top 40 players to prevent them from going overseas.

“They also have to look at contracting u19 and u20 players to prevent them from moving abroad.”


“Transformation is how you implement and see it.

“If transformation is seen as reaching its end when all of the players in the team are black, then there is a question mark around it.

“A guy that understands rugby and have played competitively will know that you need each other.

“The white Afrikaner brings bulk and you need that. A lot of people have the wrong impression and the word transformation brings fear to some.

“It can be such a lovely word. Rugby is all about combinations.

“Doc Craven once told me: ‘Erroll, you are from Caledon and Danie Gerber is from Despatch. But the moment you are lined up next to each other it looks like you come from the same womb,’ because that’s how we clicked.

“The quota system can be something beautiful, it just has to be handled correctly.”

Player conditioning

“You know when one plate of food is good, you want another. And then you don’t feel well afterwards. “That’s the situation we have over here.

“Our players are playing abroad and domestically and they simply play too much rugby.”

The Bok game plan

“I believe the game plan will stay the same as long as Allister [Coetzee] is there.

“If Saru wants to bring in some former Boks, to bring some direction, it has to happen.”

The domestic game

“Saru has to help manage the Super Rugby franchises. The current structure at the top is not enough – they need people to help, former Springboks.

“The two lesser franchises – the Cheetahs and the Kings – should be used as feeder teams.

“We know they are not going to compete for the title, but they can be used as a platform to develop young players.

“We have to make sure that the level under the Boks are healthy – Super Rugby.”

Bok assistants

With rumours doing the rounds that Chean Roux will vacate his position at the end of the year, the Lions’ Swys de Bruin and Franco Smith are being linked to Bok jobs.

Tobias, though, believes De Bruin and Smith are not the right men for the jobs.

He says: “The whole thing around them has been blown up.

“When I played the Western Province first league at club rugby level was of a higher quality than the Currie Cup this year.

“Look at what happened to [De Bruin’s] Lions in the Currie Cup semis and to Smith’s Cheetahs in Super Rugby.”

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