Saru aims to break provincial barrier

Rassie Erasmus is adamant that a new Saru initiative will see the South African provinces working together in the interests of the Springboks. JON CARDINELLI reports.

Erasmus, Saru’s high-performance manager, held court at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport on Monday. This institute will play host to coaches from around the country and across various age groups and levels over the next five days, providing them with a clearer idea of how the Springboks operate and what Heyneke Meyer and his lieutenants require of players at Test level.

Meyer and his assistant coaches will conduct lectures and practical demonstrations to clarify the structures and philosophy that have been utilised by the Boks over the past two years.

Meyer said at the end of the 2013 Test season that he hoped to improve the relationship between the Boks' coaching staff and the respective Super Rugby coaches. Ultimately, the Bok coach wants to see the franchises, as well as the national team, working together to propel South Africa to the pinnacle of world rugby.

On Monday, Erasmus explained to the coaches gathered at the Academy of Sport that the aim of the current symposium was two-fold. It’s necessary to improve the communication, and thus the exchange of ideas, between coaches at national and Super Rugby levels. Erasmus clarified that the Bok coaches were not prescribing a particular way or pattern of play, but rather explaining what they will require of a Bok at Test level.

The process is intended to be mutually beneficial, as the Bok coaching staff imparts information and knowledge that may aid the Super Rugby teams.

Saru is also looking to implement an online system that will allow the assessment of players at the various provinces, from the U13 Craven Week right up to the elite level. Erasmus highlighted the need to monitor the younger age groups, as this will ensure that weaknesses are identified and addressed at an earlier stage of their careers. In the long-term, it is hoped that fewer young stars slip through the cracks.

Meyer visited the provinces in early 2013 in an attempt to build relationships between the Boks and the Super Rugby franchises, and said after the June Test series that the move had proved beneficial.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Meyer has adopted a similar course of action in 2014, or that further steps have been taken – in the shape of a national coaches symposium in Stellenbosch – to break down provincial barriers and encourage the exchange of information for the good of South African rugby.

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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