Five things we want to see in SA rugby in 2017
The New Year is a time of resolutions and 2017 offers the opportunity to see some improvements in rugby. Here is a list of five things we would like to see in the coming months.
1. Central contracting:
Now that the general council has lost its grip on decision-making in South African rugby‚ there is real hope that aggressive policies in the best interests of the national game could become a reality.
A version of central contracting‚ which has always been difficult because of provincial influence‚ could make massive strides forward this year.
With SA Rugby’s executive council in control‚ and more money available with less going to bankrupt unions‚ the war chest to centrally contract more players is bigger.
It’s not only about being able to pay more but to have more control over Springbok players. It would enable SA Rugby to more aggressively monitor the fitness and welfare of its top players.
2. Co-operation between Super Rugby franchises and the Boks:
After well-received and productive meetings between top coaches at two indabas last year‚ that spirit of cooperation needs to continue.
Too often talk of franchises working in the best interests of the national team has been just that – talk.
So far there has been little more than dialogue but there does appear to be a genuine desire‚ brought on by the Boks’ struggles in 2016‚ to act.
Player welfare and fitness management will be key areas that will help the Springboks’ long-term prospects.
Coaches need to take transformation seriously as well. The Springbok team will need to meet a 40 percent transformation target in 2017 and the only way to achieve that will be the development of players at Super Rugby level.
3. A definitive policy on selecting overseas-based players:
This has been marked as one of SA Rugby’s priorities this year in an attempt to stop talented younger players leaving the country.
Losing established veterans has always been an acceptable situation but increasingly rising stars such as Paul Willemse‚ Jacques du Plessis‚ CJ Stander and Johan Goosen left when they were under 23.
Several models to manage the situation have been tabled from a blanket ban on picking overseas-based players for the Springboks to setting a cap limit.
There are many ways to skin this cat but clearly retaining talented young players has to be a priority.
4. An injection of money from private ownership:
Last year’s historic decision to allow private parties to own up to a 74 percent stake of unions has cleared a path for an injection of cash.
The likes of Altmann Allers‚ who has been bankrolling the Lions for years‚ will now be able to take a more formal ownership role under the new dispensation.
Given the poor state of finances at most unions the time is ripe for wealthy individuals or companies to pick up a team for a relatively cheap price and help reinvigorate the local game.
5. A winning Bok team:
There has been one constant in South African rugby – when the Springboks win‚ all the other problems fade into the background.
SA Rugby desperately needs to find a way of making sure the Boks have a good season‚ not least because they are failing to attract a major title sponsor for their flagship brand.
The aura and reputation of the Springbok is in tatters after losing eight of 12 Tests in 2016 and it’s essential they start to win.
Enticing youngsters not to take up lucrative overseas contracts can partly be controlled by the lure of playing for one of the world’s great Test teams. Right now‚ the attraction of the Bok jersey is just not strong enough.
- TMG Digital