‘Indaba breaks new ground’

Allister Coetzee says the need for players to evolve their skill sets was one of the primary necessities identified during the SA Rugby coaches indaba, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Cape Town.

On the opening day on Wednesday, Allister Coetzee outlined the primary objectives for the two-day gathering between the various key stakeholders in SA rugby, and which included all six Super Rugby coaches.

These revolved around establishing collaborations between the various coaches, discussing contemporary trends and establishing philosophies to address identified shortcomings.

At the conclusion of the indaba on Thursday, Coetzee insisted that the process had broken new ground in terms of mapping out a number of interventions at all levels of the game.

He revealed that a six-page document summarising the discussed plans and processes would be drawn up within the next 10 days before being distributed to the various franchises.

A monitoring system will then be put in place from next year to ensure the franchises continue to follow the vision that has been mapped out, while franchises will be able to continue logging relevant data that can be shared.

‘I believe this indaba has been a ground-breaking process for SA rugby,' Coetzee enthused. 'We’ve been living in our separate little kingdoms, which was reminiscent of the amateur era, but now we’ve begun to build relationships and share this wide-ranging intellectual property that we have.

‘It’s been unbelievable to see how everyone opened up, and we got the sense that we don’t need to follow other teams. We identified what our strengths are in South African rugby, and how that can be implemented to shape the way we want to play. Those core fundamentals need to be developed at franchise level so that it’s easier to play with any game plan at national level.

‘We need a South African rugby blueprint about what skill sets are required through all levels of rugby, and this is definitely the start of something positive. We have been left behind in terms of our skill sets, whether it be kick execution or our aerial skills, and that has to be addressed.’

Going hand in hand with consistent skill execution is the need for players to boast the necessary conditioning strengths to begin to match a side such as the All Blacks.

It was revealed that a separate conditioning indaba will be held on 12 December to focus solely on what needs to be done to ensure players improve their fitness and conditioning.

Coetzee said they had also addressed the desire to establish uniformity in terms of a style of play, but reiterated that it would take time for this to come to fruition.

‘This is an ongoing thing, and we can’t put a timeline on it or just expect a perfect style of play. There’s got to be a balance to what we do, and even though we recognise that we need to play more with ball in hand, we can’t be reckless and stupid. So we’ll take bits and pieces of what can work, and what fits the profile of our players, and then look to implement that.’

Incoming SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said he had been highly encouraged by the first building blocks that had been put in place at the indaba.

‘There is no quick fix, we’ve identified short-term interventions, and long-term strategies to be rolled out over the next couple of years. Everything needs to be in collaboration with the franchises. What we’ve discussed will be distributed to the respective unions about a common way to deliver our rugby, in terms of both attack and defence. The information will be shared with everyone and we’ve now got a direction for SA rugby to move forward.’

Photo: Luigi Bennett/BackpagePix

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Craig Lewis