The big Bok idea

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October 20, 2016
The big Bok idea

DINKSKRUM: Rugby experts CREDIT: Noor Slamdien

Coach Toetie and SA rugby brains trust’s plan to save Bokke.

Springbok  coach Allister Coetzee says he stopped at a robot next to an older gentleman who recognised him and then the guy just shook his head.

Die man is obviously kwaad vir sy geliefde Bokke.

Coetzee, though, believes the current state of the national team is not something that happened overnight.

And with professionalism in rugby having turned 21 this year, the Bok coach believes it’s time for South African rugby to come of age – hence the indaba.

This is what Coetzee had to say at the start of the national think tank yesterday:

We aren’t the best

“WhenI visited the unions at the start of the year, I mentioned the indaba.

“I mentioned the need to get together – whether the win percentage was nine from nine [games], it was still a necessity to get together in a format like this and make sure that we have a reality check.

“I think we are living in our own little kingdoms and we’re hoping and thumbsucking that we are the best rugby nation in world rugby.”

Decline of the Bok

“Since the game has turned
professional, South African rugby has had some great isolated on-field success.

“But overall, our game has not advanced.

“Look at 2007, we had a World Cup win. Then you go back and when did we have a great year again – in 2013.

“In the term of Nick Mallett — it was 80 percent plus, so it’s been sporadic. It’s not on a consistent level.

“Statistically, in Super Rugby since 1996 all of our teams have a 57 win percentage at home and 25 percent away from home.

“In the Rugby Championship – we have an overall home record of 62 percent since 1996 at home and away it’s 18 percent.

“In the amateur era [before 1996 the win percentage was better and people remember that].

“When I drive in the road and I stop next to an old man and he recognises me and he looks at me and shakes his head.

“In his days, this [the win percentage] was 80 percent.

“Be that as it may, and if you ask people about the Springboks – they think ‘it is a nation that’s good [in rugby], we were outstanding in the past’.

“The bigger problem is, in the professional era that [the stats] is where we are.

“My question is then: have we embraced professionalism?”

National strategy

“A national strategy is not dictating game plans for any teams.

“Different coaches have different approaches. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about a third one [option] – a national strategy equipping our players to adapt to any kind of game plan coaches want them to play.

“That’s what we need  a national strategy, plus systems that can measure and monitor the objectives.

“If you don’t have that it [the winning ratio] will just regress at a rapid rate and we’ve got to decide if this is what we want to see South African rugby in the next 10 years or the next 21 years.”

Relationship with franchises

“There has to be alignment between us [the national coaching staff] and the franchise coaches.

“In my estimations we [the national coaches] have the Springbok players for about 18 weeks in a year.

“It doesn’t matter if you know the way I play or the way I want to play.

“We need a succession plan – long-term and short-term.”

Healthy super rugby, healthy Bokke

“Then also there is a clear parallel — whenever our Super Rugby teams do well, our national team does well.

“Fortunately I was part of the 2007 era when we won the World Cup and we had 22 Springboks from a group of 31 in that team — [from] the Bulls and Sharks in that final.

“There is a clear parallel [and] we have to work hand and glove together, we need each other. For me the national and franchise rugby can not exist in isolation.”

Central contracting

Interim Saru president Mark Alexander says it’s time to “take a leaf out of New Zealand’s book”.

Alexander explains: “All of the top players in New Zealand are looked after by the New Zealand union.

“We have six different franchises, who each have different goals and objectives and different ways of coaching. Our players spend the bulk of their time with the unions.

“The system that we operate is clearly not going to be efficient in managing our players well.

“This indaba aims to find a solution to that problem.”

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