SA rugby not in peak condition

23 February 2016 - 02:17 By Brendan Venter


There is currently a sense of doom and gloom within South Africa owing to an ailing economy, the drought and the fear of rising taxes. And in rugby terms, we are also not winning the game. Sport serves as a microcosm of society and, much like the country, there are a number of issues working against South African rugby.Independently of the economy, rugby in South Africa is under significant pressure. And if the SA Rugby Union fails to take heed of the warning signs, which are flashing, watch out because the perfect storm will hit and plunge our game into a state of disaster.First and foremost, a lack of leadership and transparency within local rugby is patent. The Southern Kings debacle is a case in point. The table was set to use the union as a springboard for transformation owing to the region's fabled history of producing home-grown players of colour.The Kings had the potential to prove a viable Super rugby franchise and in preparation Saru fought for them to participate in the premier division of the Currie Cup. However, they failed to provide them with the infrastructure to build from.It's incredibly sad that the plan has completely fallen apart, and the reality is that the Kings might get totally destroyed during Super rugby.If it comes to pass, their dream will turn into a nightmare and their supporters will lose hope.The Kings could not have the dice more heavily loaded against them upon their Super rugby return, and have been drawn in Africa Conference 2.In addition to their inter-conference fixtures, they will face all five New Zealand franchises.The Kings have limited squad depth and if they manage to find form and function effectively, head coach Deon Davids will prove a miracle worker.Over and above the unfortunate Kings' tale, South Africa rugby is haemorrhaging playing talent owing to the weakening rand exchange rate.The crisis is underlined by the fact that some of our best youngsters are heading abroad to further their playing careers.Former Under-20 stars such as Steven Kitshoff, Paul Willemse and Jacques du Plessis are earning their keep in France.Meanwhile, Marcell Coetzee's impending move to Ulster is a huge loss for our rugby.He is a local boy raised in the Sharks academy, but when money talks, people walk. He will reportedly earn R11-million a year in Ireland.But, even as a Sharks and Springbok supporter, you can't begrudge Coetzee because in South Africa the maximum he can earn is R6-million if he's playing in all of the matches and representing his country.The Springbok brand has largely survived off the back of attaining reasonable on-field results. However, everything could fall apart if the side starts losing on a consistent basis.A strong Springbok team is dependent upon a robust local rugby scene. When the team fails to perform, it's a symptom of a much bigger underlying issue. Therefore, treating the symptom with a pain pill is not the solution.All business rescue depends on people making bold decisions, and sticking to them.If the suits at Saru don't make big, strong decisions at this point, further crises will prove impossible to avert, and the adverse effects will be felt over the next three to four years.

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