South African rugby’s national leadership stinks, writes MARK KEOHANE in Business Day newspaper.
It did a year ago but the stench is now at its most foul.
Whatever the South African success in Super Rugby in its expanded 18-team format, it can’t compensate or negate the rot within the game’s national leadership.
The leadership, be it Oregan Hoskins who parades as the president or Jurie Roux, who functions as the boss of the Springboks and all things national, is divided as every rotten bit starts to publicly be exposed.
Hoskins has managed to duck and dive every issue on transformation since in 2007 promising the South African government and public that a Springbok team would never again go to a World Cup with transformation an issue.
When there was minimal change in 2011, Hoskins predictably played the patriotism card in urging the people and those who report on the game to unconditionally get behind the Springboks’ World Cup campaign.
Again transformation was secondary to the propaganda fuelled hysteria that the Boks would win the 2011 World Cup. The reality was the international season had been a disaster and the Boks, one-point victors against Wales in the pool stage, lost in the quarter-finals.
Hoskins, in driving transformation, was silent for four years between 2011 and 2015 and the leadership short-term con job in attempting to portray bigger black numbers in 2015 was to include Rudy Paige as the third scrumhalf.
Paige had not played a Test in Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s four-year tenure but the propaganda machine again hit the patriotism button and Paige’s selection was hailed as a victory for transformation.
It was a farce, as was the Springboks' World Cup campaign. The Boks lost to Japan in the pool stage and were beaten in the semi-finals.
Paige played less than 20 minutes in the tournament as Meyer proved incapable of understanding the transformation dynamics within the squad.
Saru’s leadership (read Roux) had already in principle reappointed Meyer before the start of the 2015 season. It proved a costly mistake because Meyer resigned with a payout that was the result of misguided and arrogant decisions based on the illusion that the Boks would win the 2015 Rugby Championship and the World Cup.
The Rugby Championship, only played over a single round, favoured the Boks. They would host Argentina and the All Blacks and the only away game was in Australia. The arrogance, which has had a stink to it the equal of the rotting head of the leadership, refused to entertain on-field realities.
The Bok didn’t win a Test in the Rugby Championship, which was merely an extension of the inept Super Rugby regional performances when not one of the five regional teams placed in the top six.
Now Roux is under investigation for alleged misappropriation off funds when heading up Maties Rugby Club.
Hoskins is said to want Roux out, who in turn hasn’t been too fazed by the powder puff punches of a president who has only been noticeable because of his absence on any relevant issue in South African rugby.
The 14 elected provincial presidents, as has been custom since amateur structures were insisted on when the game when professional in 1996, are divided. There is no unity and when there is no unity there can never be strength.
Sponsors have pulled out, the Springbok coaching successor to Meyer has not been made because agendas are at play. The post wasn’t advertised after 2007 World Cup-winning coach Jake White indicated he would apply for a second stint. Hoskins despises White, and his ego and distaste for White triumphed over transparency.
The leadership, reminiscent of those dark days of National Party apartheid rule in South Africa, felt no obligation to answer for actions. None felt the need to be accountable to the public, over the Boks, transformation, the position of the Southern Kings or the loss of leading sponsors. There was also no fronting for the failed 2015 international season.
Now, with the rot at its most extreme, it’s all falling apart and each day brings another revelation of Roux and Hoskins being a law unto themselves, even if not in sync with each other’s individual agendas.
And of course there’s this weekend’s start to Super Rugby, a tournament that diminishes in appeal with each team expansion from the original Super 12.
The leadership, with Hoskins at the forefront, agreed to stay with Super Rugby when every rational argument suggested South African rugby would be a greater beneficiary aligned to tournament structures in the northern hemisphere.
The little cheer in our rugby will come with the domestic derbies in the first month but that will be short term. What shouldn’t be short term is the haste in which Hoskins, Roux and the leadership should be chased from the offices of SA Rugby.
Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images