I don’t know how to start this rant. To be honest my intro alone should consist of just about every four letter word I can muster.
Suffice to say if there is anyone out there that isn’t aware of the fact that South African rugby is in too deep, then they must be following ballet.
Here are the statistics for South Africa since 2013, the year the cracks were starting to show.
South Africa vs everyone since 2013
New Zealand: played eight, lost seven, won one
Australia: played eight, lost four, won two
Argentina: played 11, lost three, won eight (prior to 2014 SA lost to Argentina only once)
Wales: played seven, lost four, won three (prior to 2014 SA lost to Wales only once)
Ireland: played five, lost three, won two
England: played five, lost two, won three
Scotland: played two, won two
Italy: lost one, won two
France played four, won four
Japan played one, lost one – SA had never lost to Japan before
The first two years of Heyneke Meyer’s tenure the Springboks went through two November tours of Europe unbeaten, they had a win ratio of 75 per cent and then the wheels started to fall off.
During 2014 Heyeneke Meyer started showing an inability to adjust game plan. He continued to select experience over form and by the RWC in 2015 the writing was on the wall as his favouritism of experience over form brought about the most embarrassing moment of Springbok rugby history, a defeat to Japan.
Despite the loss to Japan, South Africa managed to get to the semi-final where they faced a rampant New Zealand, their limited game plan did keep the match tight, but was never going to get them to the final.
Then came the appointment of Allister Coetzee, the man who couldn’t get the Stormers to win a play-off match in eight years of trying, a team who became more stale as the seasons went by and a coach who couldn’t bring innovation to a team let alone a plan B.
The failed two seasons was marred by a coach who refused to take responsibility for his team’s or his own failures. The less said about 2016 and 2017 the better.
Cometh the hour cometh the man, and Rassie Erasmus steps into the limelight. The savior of SA rugby.
His goal to transform SA rugby, to maintain a solid win record and to prepare the Springboks for the RWC in 18 matches.
To be honest Rassie’s approach of honesty and transparency thus far has been a breath of fresh air, his win ratio though has not.
Yes, he has transformed the team, appointed South Africa’s first black captain, unearthed some rough diamonds who with some experience can become icons in South African rugby.
Aphiwe Dyanti, Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am, S’busiso Nkosi et all have shown a willingness to work hard, an eagerness to attack. With Siya Kolisi as the new face of South African rugby it is hopeful that they will inspire a new generation of talented rugby players that will bring a new future and a new legacy to South African rugby.
So what is wrong? Why is it that SA rugby is going backwards?
It is in a very large part due to the mass exodus of South Africa’s rugby intellect and experienced players that is leaving an ever increasing gap in the coaching and talent pool. This is diluting the quality of rugby being offered to the rugby public.
SARU is trying to use the reset button, they are in motion to halve the number of professional players and hoping to get their house in order.
Schalk Burger Sr, father of recently retired Springbok Schalk Burger and an ex Springbok himself has recently called for the top brass of SARU to resign, believing a complete overhaul is necessary to South African rugby out of the mire.
Although his criticism was mainly focused on the financial side of things, he believes the management is responsible for the mass exodus of players due to their incompetence and that money alone is not the reason for so many South African players plying their trade overseas.
South African rugby is in dire need of central contracting, they must as a matter of urgency protect their top 90-120 rugby players. Failure to do so will not stop the rot and exodus of players.
Jaco Kriel in a recent interview made the comment that there will be a mass exodus of players after the World Cup next year, he himself wasn’t going to hang around until then as contract negotiations benefitted him now.
The relaxation of the SARU rule in regards the selection of overseas rugby players is not to the benefit of South African rugby and I am astounded that there are people believing it is.
Let’s look at the overseas players selected thus far by Rassie Erasmus. Apart from Dwayne Vermeulen, the truth of the matter is the rest of the overseas players have not really added much at all.
Faf de Klerk has become pedantic, his ruck clearance, his little foot grubber behind the ruck before his box kick and his general conducting traffic behind the ruck is as irritating as having a woodpecker having a go at your eyeball.
Francois Louw has lost it, never a big ball carrier, his runs have always made me check my remote for Super slow motion, his ground work at the ruck is becoming more unnoticeable and overall he has had very little impact this season.
While Willie le Roux does show some flair on a sporadic base, his errors and poor defensive technique reminds me of why he lost his spot a few seasons ago.
I am probably going to say this for the umpteenth time, leave the bloody overseas players alone.
They have left the building, they have moved on, they are living the good life elsewhere, their priorities have changed, continued selection only provide them with butter on both sides of their toast. It encourages South African players to leave as they still have an in into the Springbok setup. It adds momentum to the rot.
When will SARU wake the hell up and look at New Zealand rugby as an example? What do we as South African rugby supporters have to do to get SARU to realise interest and passion for the sport we so dearly love is waning due to them not getting it right?
Let’s consider the following statements, I will be very happy to be proved wrong:
Rassie will not win the RWC next year.
Selecting overseas players will detract more than it will enhance the Springbok team.
Where are the systems that provide continuity of rugby intellect in South Africa, what processes and structures are in place to retain South African rugby intellect?
What is being done about player development, the absolute poor skills, and decision making witnessed during the current season is pathetic, it is unbelievable that paid professionals don’t have basic catch and pass skills, let alone understanding running support lines, retaining structure on defence?
Is Jurie Roux still of the opinion that SARU can do nothing to retain players in South Africa? If so it is high time he resigns.
I have a hundred more questions, but for now I would like to see these ones being addressed as a matter of urgency.
I am giving my notice to SARU, if you don’t fix this, I’ll be gone.