A Saru ind­aba: Where full dis­clo­sure is about as likely as tur­keys vot­ing for Christ­mas

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

BREN­DAN VENTER is an ex­cel­lent choice to fa­cil­i­tate the big coach­ing ind­aba that has been set for the com­ing week for the pur­pose of launch­ing “in­ter­ven­tions” ( Saru’s word­ing) into the ail­ing state of the game in this coun­try.

How­ever, while it en­cour­ages me that the widely trav­elled and as­tute doc­tor from the Strand has at last had his rugby acu­men and tac­ti­cal brain ac­knowl­edged, we also have to be re­al­is­tic about what the con­fer­ence can achieve.

Ini­tially it was sched­uled to last for three days. It has now been cut to two. There are also some coaches who should be there who prob­a­bly won’t be.

For in­stance, if the Li­ons win through to the Cur­rie Cup fi­nal by beat­ing the Free State Chee­tahs to­day, the only South African coach who has suc­cess­fully coached a modern style of the game, Jo­han Ack­er­mann, won’t be there.

Even if all the coaches are there, what sort of in­put can they give when you con­sider that the sys­tem in South Africa is still very pro­vin­cial-union driven?

In New Zealand, where there is one pay­mas­ter at Su­per Rugby and na­tional level, it is eas­ier to share ideas for the good of im­prov­ing the All Blacks be­cause that is ef­fec­tively part of each coach’s brief.

In South Africa, how­ever, pro­vin­cial or fran­chise coaches are ex­pected to get the edge over all their rivals, and par­tic­u­larly the lo­cal ones, or they are sacked.

If Bulls coach Nol­lis Marais has a per­cep­tion that he feels is unique to his union and the Bulls’ chances of suc­cess, I wouldn’t blame him if he held it back. He could be risk­ing his liveli­hood if he didn’t.

So it doesn’t sur­prise me to hear the Li­ons con­tin­gent do not in­tend giv­ing full dis­clo­sure dur­ing the ind­aba.

They’re the top lo­cal fran­chise at the mo­ment, and thanks to the coup they pulled off when they con­vinced West­ern Prov­ince ad­min­is­tra­tors to go against their di­rec­tor of rugby’s rec­om­men­da­tion for for­mer Li­ons coach John Mitchell to coach the Storm­ers, they are likely to re­main that way for a while. Why would they want to give that ad­van­tage away?

The reser­va­tions about the ind­aba ex­pressed here go to the heart of the prob­lem. It is why this lat­est at­tempt by Saru to try and con­vince the me­dia and the pub­lic that they have a han­dle on a sit­u­a­tion they them­selves cre­ated prob­a­bly doesn’t have much chance of achiev­ing the nec­es­sary change.

For in or­der for South African rugby to thrive on the field again, fun­da­men­tal changes have to be made to the way rugby is run and set up in this coun­try.

All Black coach Steve Hansen summed at Kings Park: “Our cen­tral con­tract­ing sys­tem is the goose that lays the golden eggs.” He also said New Zealand ben­e­fited from hav­ing ca­pa­ble ad­min­is­tra­tors and hav­ing ev­ery­one work­ing hard for the same agenda, which is to win.

That’s not the case in South Africa, where the fo­cus on pro­vin­cial in­ter­ests that was a nat­u­ral con­se­quence of the iso­la­tion era con­tin­ues. If you speak to other Kiwi coaches they will also tell you an­other key as­pect to their suc­cess is that all the play­ers who play for the All Blacks have to be based in the coun­try.

They would never coun­te­nance a sit­u­a­tion where a large por­tion of their na­tional- play­ing group spends the off-sea­son play­ing in Ja­pan, or where one of their top for­wards heads off to Sara­cens for three months.

A de­gree of pri­vati­sa­tion is one so­lu­tion to that prob­lem. An English-based con­cern was pre­pared to pay a lot of for­eign money into the South­ern Kings and had they pulled it off, rugby in the East­ern Cape might have taken off in the man­ner that the gov­ern­ment has been hop­ing it will.

But there is a clause in the Saru con­sti­tu­tion pro­hibit­ing a pri­vate com­pany from hav­ing more than a 49% share in a lo­cal union, and that is un­der­stood to have put them off.

Money is what makes the world go round, and is re­ally the only way to stop the out­flow of lo­cally- pro­duced play­ing re­sources to other coun­tries.

Apart from pri­vati­sa­tion, one way to do that is to cut down the num­ber of pro­fes­sional unions.

Al­most ev­ery­one ap­pears to agree on that, and on many of the other things dis­cussed in this col­umn, but it would mean the 14 pro­vin­cial pres­i­dents who hold the power would have to give up their priv­i­leges. That say­ing about tur­keys not vot­ing for Christ­mas has been re­peated of­ten enough.

There are some very ca­pa­ble elected of­fi­cials who have their heart in the right place and who are elected out of the club game to pre­side over pro­fes­sional rugby, but the sys­tem is ar­chaic and wrong and is stand­ing in the way of progress.

If the ind­aba can be used to start the di­a­logue with the elected of­fi­cials that might lead to that sit­u­a­tion be­ing re­dressed, and it is en­cour­ag­ing that some of the pres­i­dents have been in­vited to at­tend, then it might serve a use­ful pur­pose.

If, how­ever, it doesn’t, then it will just be a waste of time, for what is de­cided at the con­fer­ence will have to be fully un­der­stood by the tur­keys if it is to be prop­erly im­ple­mented. The coaches can come up with so­lu­tions, but they don’t make the de­ci­sions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.