A Look Into The Crystal Ball Where To From Here For SA Rugby?

There is no disputing that 2016 will go down in the rugby annuals as the worst year ever for South African rugby, an annus horribilis . South African rugby fans are worried, the question on everyone’s mind, “what will happen, to the once mighty Springboks going forward?”  In this post we will examine what will happen to SA rugby heading into 2017, and beyond. Will the Springboks be able to get back to winning ways or are they doomed to follow the same path as the South African national soccer team? A path of mediocrity.

Problems Which Will Spell The End For SA Rugby

Will SA rugby improve? Allister Coetzee & Springbok Coaching Staff

Honour, and falling on your own sword, despite a string of historical losses does not exist within South Africa. Allister Coetzee made it very clear that he will remain as the Springbok head coach in 2017. Coetzee did a fine job at pointing fingers and blaming everyone but himself for the Springboks poor performance. ‘

While we realize there is a multitude of problems within South African rugby (which we will address below) the reality is Coetzee & Stick, made the current crop of Springbok players look like a bunch of headless chickens running around the field, having no idea what to do. We would go out on a limb and say, if there was no coach, and the players had the freedom to “simply play” half of the disastrous results would not have happened.

Coetzee, Stick & Proudfoot, made things progressively worse for the Springboks in 2016 not better! Despite all the problems Coetzee mentioned when shifting the blame, a BIG finger needs to be pointed in his direction. We hold Coetzee responsible for many of the historical losses.

The fact that Coetzee will remain on as head coach in 2017 is a gigantic problem for South African rugby! Coetzee had his day. However, the reality is this, Coetzee’s game remained consistently the same throughout the 8-years that he was with the Stormers. There was never some form of deviation or change, in terms of on field instructions.

The fact that the Stormers never won a Super Rugby title despite being perfectly placed on a number of occasions is simply because, came crunch time, Coetzee got both outcoached and outsmarted. The unwillingness (or rather the inability)  of mixing up a gameplan made the Stormers crumble in Coetzee’s last 2-years.

What is meant by the above? Simply put, Coetzee is incapable of adapting to modern day rugby. He is trying to bring his, 2010 Stormers game plan and defensive strategy to the Springboks. It did not work, nor will it work!

With Coetzee incharge and Mzwandile Stick there to help him, the current struggles will not only continue but will get progressively worse. Coetzee has repeatedly demonstrated he is as one dimensional as Donald Trump’s foreign policy. Then you have the problem of the assistant coach Mzwandile Stick who is responsible for the worse offensive team in Super Rugby. Not exactly a winning combo!

Transformation, 50-50 representation

SARU’s mission statement reads as follow:

By 2019 the South African rugby team should consists of 50% NONE white players, where 50% within that group should be black Africans.

The above is clear discrimination, there is not arguing that! It is extremely unfair to all parties involved including black Africans. We are not going to dive too deep into this policy and the clear discrimination thereof, as we have comprehensively covered the subject of racial discrimination by the South African rugby union on numerous occasions.

Consider this, the Springboks already have an incompetent coach who is way out of his depth at international level. To make matters worse Coetzee, will now not be able to select his best team, and will be forced to move certain players out of position or will simply have to omit key players to fulfill the quota requirement.

The above will cause HUGE problems heading into 2017 and will start to become more & more prevalent as the 2019 World Cup comes closer. Worrying signs indeed.

South African Rugby Brain Drain.

While the South African economy remains locked in the brink of a recession, plus the (very real) possibility of a credit ratings downgrade the South African rand is trading at record lows against foreign currency, causing a mass outflux of SA rugby talent.

Rugby is now a professional sport, and players are commodities. Considering that a player’s career span is about 12-years, players need to make the most of their time as an athlete before striking the traditional mid 30 retirement age.

It only makes sense for these professional athletes to make the most of their very short career spans, and go chase bigger money in Europe, since the vast majority is not exactly qualified to make a shift to the private sector post retirement. It is only the very best, a select few, who goes on to become TV pundits & commentators.

Just how much more money can a South African rugby player make overseas?  As an example, consider a young, up and coming player,  who just entered the Super Rugby arena. Such a player earns about 700’000 (ZAR) annually, plus endorsements. That salary is equivalent to a European salary of…£43’000(GBP), equaiting to an average monthly salary of £2300, roughly equivalent to what a new European graduate will make, coming out of university

As a general rule of thumb, European clubs can double to triple the above salary for acquired players, with Japanese clubs being able to offer even higher numbers. 

Ask yourself this, will you turn down such a massive salary increase? Of course not! It is also worth noting that the above example is targeted on young up and coming players, without international experience. Thus, South African talent moving to Europe certainly don’t have to put any international ambition on hold, since they start to become eligible for selection in their newly adopted country within 3 to 4 years.

50-50 policy contributing to rugby brain drain

As we have mentioned in the past the 2019 transformation policy is just as much to blame for the South African “rugby brain drain”, as the poor SA economy is to blame. From a caucasian player’s point of view, why take a gamble with your future, when you will have a 50% less chance of rising to the top, in an already competitive environment, now made even harder with “transformation” policies. Any sane person will choose the bigger money combined with the chance of fair, non discriminatory, selection in a couple of years, for the player’s newly adopted country.

In short when you combine the poor SA economy plus the unrealistic 50-50 selection policy of the South African Rugby Union, the dam walls will soon burst. Expect to see South African Super Rugby Franchises, made up mostly of second string player in the very near future.

Conclusion – What Will Happen To SA Rugby?

Above we have touched on the 3 primary factors which South African rugby will face heading into 2017 and beyond. It makes for grim reading and, it is hard to see how South African rugby will overcome these gigantic obstacles heading into the future. Surely any person who thinks there is even the slightest bit of hope for South African rugby moving forward is, either completely out of touch with reality or simply downright ignorant. There will be no bounce back, there will be no improvement, the nail is in the coffin and the Springbok is dead, may he rest in peace. 

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