Former Springbok captain Victor Matfield this week joined 17 other coaches from the Blue Bulls in becoming certified on the BokSmart national rugby safety programme.
For many of the professional Vodacom Bulls coaches and conditioning staff, it was their second BokSmart course in the last two years.
Matfield, who retired from all rugby at the end of 2011, having amassed 110 Tests for the Springboks and 116 Vodacom Super Rugby caps for the Vodacom Bulls, joined the coaching staff of the Pretoria-based team a few weeks ago as a consultant.
Apart from Matfield, two-time Vodacom Super Rugby winning head coach Frans Ludeke, as well as former Springbok wing Pieter Rossouw, who is the Vodacom Bulls’ backline coach, Pine Pienaar (Absa Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup head coach) and Basil Carzis (strength and conditioning coach) were also in attendance.
Matfield said: “It is unbelievable to think that we can get all coaches in the country on the same level in order to improve this game we love so much and make it safer for all.”
Dr Wayne Viljoen, BokSmart Manager at the South African Rugby Union, said it was wonderful to see top professional coaches get behind the programme.
“Guys like Victor, Frans, Pieter and Pine, to name but a few, all coach at the top level and they set an exemplary example for the many other coaches out there. Nothing is more important than the on-field safety of our rugby players,” said Viljoen.
According to Pienaar, who will be in charge of the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup in the next few months, BokSmart is a very useful tool for school, club and amateur coaches.
“Every coach’s first priority has to be the player. Player safety always comes first and it doesn’t matter the level he plays on. It’s a good checklist for coaches and players in amateur rugby,” said Pienaar.
A man who has heaps of experience at coaching at school boy and under-age level, Paul Anthony (the Blue Bulls U19 coach), knows of the pitfalls when injured players do not receive the right treatment straight away.
“Teachers at high schools need to show more concern for their injured top players and not force them to play with injuries,” said Anthony.
“Fourteen players at our High Performance Centre arrived with long term injuries, which they played with at school and are now in a six to 12 week rehabilitation programme. Teachers must consider the health and future of the players above all.”