Rugby

Only a ballsy SA Rugby will triumph

30 December 2017 - 00:00 By KHANYISO TSHWAKU

The year 1988 was England cricket's "summer of four captains". That year, the test and County Cricket Board (forerunners of the England Cricket Board) employed four captains over five Wisden Trophy tests in an attempt to usurp the cricketing world order led by Viv Richards's West Indians.
They failed miserably (4-0) as the West Indies, who weren't at their best, always found the necessary gear when England entertained thoughts of being competitive.
It's fitting that a powerful England side coached by Eddie Jones lie in wait to sack what remains of the rotten Springbok edifice. Yes, South African rugby is exactly that. It just so happens to trade on its former glories. It would be easy to feel sorry for the Springboks but they are participants in and architects of their own demise.
Indecision has been the watchword for South African Rugby since the appointment of Allister Coetzee as coach in April 2016, and it's clear the employer dug itself into a hole that it can't get out of.
South African Rugby (Saru) now wants the same coach gone because the prodigal son, Johan "Rassie" Erasmus, has returned from his Munster sabbatical to assume the director of rugby gig that has always been reserved for him.It beggars belief that he left and came back and the position was never filled, but this is Saru we are talking about. It subscribes to its own set of rules.
Anyway, 2018 is going to be a tough proposition for the Springboks and whoever replaces Coetzee - that is, if he is replaced.
Hopefully the coming year will provide some clarity for the myopic South African rugby public, who seem to think a change of coach will suddenly wash away the malaise that has built up over the past six years.
Coetzee has been party to his own demise that has been linked to his inability to beat the All Blacks (some recent scorelines: 41-13, 57-15, 57-0); record defeats to Ireland and Wales; transformation; and more importantly, sticking with players whose value to the team has long passed its best-by date.
The Springboks were not in the best of places when Coetzee took up the job.
Plenty of blame has to be laid at Heyneke Meyer's door. His obsession with the 2015 Rugby World Cup and loyalty to his crocked Blue Bulls senior core, that 32-34 loss to Japan in Brighton, and his inability to see past underperforming white players when there were better black players kicking down the selection door, have partly contributed to the current quagmire.
Of the multitudes of South African rugby players who are coining it overseas, there is a glaring lack of black players. The system's mistrust in them influences how they are valued elsewhere.

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