SA Rugby winds of change

After a turbulent 2016 season for South African rugby, CRAIG LEWIS looks at three enforceable actions that would be good to see in 2017.

Bold decisions on Bok coaching staff

Reports surfaced this past weekend to suggest that the future of Allister Coetzee continues to hang in the balance, with a decision set to be formalised by the end of January.

Although there have been some outside influences that could be served in mitigation of his disastrous first year at the helm of the Boks, there is very little other performance-based justification to offer him the lifeline of another year in the job.

SA Rugby’s leadership has to act decisively. Last year, there was a patent lack of clarity and confidence in the coaching roles, with the defence and kicking coaches coming in and out, while Franco Smith and JP Ferreira were then drafted in for the end-of-year tour.

There is simply no doubt that the Boks need all the help they can get, and that the current coaching status quo cannot remain as is. Indeed, the definition of insanity would be to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.

Enforcement of coaching indaba plans

One positive byproduct that came out of the Boks’ struggles last year was the hosting of a long overdue coaches indaba where key roleplayers in SA rugby came together to acknowledge that change and collaboration was a necessity going forward.

Coetzee hailed the ‘ground-breaking process’ and revealed that a six-page document summarising the discussed plans and processes would be drawn up and distributed to the various franchises.

A monitoring system was then set to be put in place from this year to ensure the franchises continue to follow the vision that has been mapped out, while franchises were said to be able to continue logging relevant data that could be shared.

Although this sounded pretty good in theory, it now remains to be seen whether there are any tangible and practical changes that are really enforced by the franchises as South African rugby continues to search for a blueprint that enables players to evolve their skill sets.

Super Rugby coaches to continue embracing positive brand of rugby

While it remains a clear work-in-progress, there were some encouraging signs last year that pointed to the fact that South Africa’s Super Rugby coaches were serious about embracing a more ambitious brand of rugby.

The Lions, of course, were the flagbearers as they emerged as one of the most lethal attacking teams in Super Rugby, but the Bulls also made no secret of the fact that they wanted to move with the times, while Robbie Fleck championed a similar philosophy at the Stormers.

Under Franco Smith, the Cheetahs demonstrated their ball-in-hand ability in the Currie Cup, and will undoubtedly look to translate that to Super Rugby this season, while new Sharks coach Rob du Preez is sure to have desires to add a bit more attacking flair to the Durban-based team’s game this year.

If South Africa’s Super Rugby teams can achieve some general uniformity in the manner in which they aim to embrace attacking play this year, it can only be a good thing for the national side.

Photo: Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis