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Super RugbyIn December 2013 and January 2014 we looked at Squad Contenders in the SA Super Rugby participating franchises. This tiime we will focus on the SA Conference Coaches for Super Rugby 2014.

We’ll have a look at all the head coaches and briefly their assistant staff, for the various South African Super Rugby franchises.

We look at their history and discuss their coaching styles and speculate about what can be expected.



The Coaches:

Vodacom Bulls: Frans Ludeke:

frans ludekeFrans Ludeke has become quite a well known coach around the Southern Hemisphere, He was part of the Lions coaching staff since 2002 and went on to become head coach of the Lions Super Rugby side in 2006. In 2008 he made a move to the Bulls with some question marks by a lot of people, yet he has achieved a lot during his stay at the Bulls.

In 2008 he inherited the Bulls champions side of 2007 when Heyneke Meyer’s crop won the title for the first time as South Africans.

The Bulls did not achieve too much in 2008.

In 2009 and 2010 the Vodacom Bulls, under Frans Ludeke took the Super Rugby title 2 years running, firstly beating the Chiefs in 2009 and then beating the Stormers in the final of 2010.

With 2 Super Rugby titles to his name, he is by far the leading Super Rugby coach of the 5 South African coaches.

Frans also took the Bulls to the play-off’s and semi-finals in 2013, the Bulls having won the SA Conference in 2013 and ending 2nd on the overall Log, thus the reason why his contract has been extended to 2016.

Under his coaching, he has delivered 16 Springboks. 2014 However brings a big challenges to the table. There was a big exodus of 10 Springbok players plus some other players since Super Rugby 2013, so Frans might find some experience lacking in his current team.


His coaching career is as follows:

  • 2006 – Head coach at the Lions, Lions finished 13th overall
  • 2008 – Started Coaching at the Bulls, Bulls finished 10th
  • 2009 – Won Super Rugby title with the Bulls
  • 2010 – Won Super Rugby title with the Bulls
  • 2011 – Bulls finished 7th overall and 3rd in the SA conference
  • 2012 – Bulls finished 5th overall, 2nd in SA conference and lost 28-13 to the Crusaders in the play-off’s
  • 2013 – Bulls finished 2nd overall, 1st in SA conference and lost 26-23 to the Brumbies in the semi-final

Frans is a very consistent coach and does not move his game plan around too much from season to season. The only place where I can find fault is the fact that Frans is too loyal to certain players and these players tend to not always be in the best form, for example Dean Greyling at loosehead prop and Werner Kruger at tighthead prop, who should have been swithed to the bench and replaced with Morné Mellet and Frik Kirsten  as starters halfway through the 2013 season at least. He finds himself in  a long season with a younger and more inexperienced squad compared to previous seasons. This will most likely be his ultimate test and time will tell what he can garner from the younger Bulls squad. I cannot see the Bulls doing much this season and under current circumstances a top 10 finish will be incredible.

He will be assisted by Pine Pienaar  (Vodacom Blue Bulls Currie Cup coach), Pieter Rossouw and Victor Matfield as assistant coaches.


Toyota Cheetahs: Allen Erasmus “Naka” Drotské:

Naka DrotskyNaka Drotské was still running with ball in hand in 2005.

In his playing career he was good and he went on to represent the Springboks 26 times, yet as a coach he seems to struggle a bit.

2013 Was a good year for the Toyota Cheetahs under Drotské, when his side made the Top 6 for a play-off spot.

He started coaching the Cheetahs in 2008 and in the first number of season the Cheetahs did not break into the top half of the Log, ending somewhere between 10th and 14th.

What Naka has done right is that he has found a way to keep his players happy and staying at the Cheetahs from year to year, this is what worked last year. The team spirit in his side was great and even fans not supporting the Cheetahs enjoyed watching them.

Under his coaching the Toyota Cheetahs play an exciting brand of rugby.


His coaching career is as follows:

  • 2008 – Started as head coach of the Cheetahs, Cheetahs finished 13th
  • 2009 – Cheetahs finished 14th
  • 2010 – Cheetahs finished 10th
  • 2011 – Cheetahs finished 11th
  • 2012 – Cheetahs finished 10th
  • 2013 – Cheetahs finished 6th, 2nd in SA conference and lost in the play-off’s

Naka is a coach who does nothing conventionally, last year the Cheetahs just ran from everywhere and it worked. Naka has to be careful that this does not cause a downfall in 2014. It is good to watch running rugby but the Cheetahs do sometimes just run and concede soft tries in the process. It is as if there is no structure in what they occasionally try and it is as if they just run for the sake of running. Naka should strive for that vital balance between attack and defence and between tactical kicking and keeping ball in hand. I doubt that the Cheetahs will relive their glory of last season but I do feel that they are a top 10 side and should finish well inside the top 10 and who knows, maybe they can sneak in at number 6 again.

He will be assisted by Hawies Fourie and, Os du Randt and Michael Horak.


Lions: Johannes Nicolaas “Johan” Ackermann:

Johan AckermanJohan Ackermann was still running with ball in hand up until 2010 before he became the forwards coach at the Lions. He has remained at the Lions since then and was given the reigns of a sinking ship in 2012 when he took over from John Mitchell.

Ackermann did quite well with the Lions last season, considering they did not take part in Super Rugby and only participated in a half-baked Lions Challenge series, taking on various teams from across the globe.

His team of 2013 showed that they wanted to play for one another and for their coach, a steely determination in the most difficult of seasons for an embattled franchise.

Johan will have some debilitating factors working against his side in 2014, with a lot of players having left the Lions for greener pastures and the Lions probably the South African Super Rugby side with the least depth in player positions.

Passion and guts and sheer determination can only take you as coach and your team so far, till superior class of player squads from elsewhere work you out and beat you, specially when some critical injuries happen in your squad.


His coaching career is as follows:

  • 2010 – Appointed as Lions forward coach, Lions finished 14th
  • 2011 – Lions forward coach, Lions finish 14th
  • 2012 – Took over as acting head coach at the Lions, Lions finished 15th
  • 2013 – Officially named head coach of the Lions, Lions did not play in Super Rugby.

Johan was a very physical player and hopefully this carries over to the players under his reign. We’ve already seen that his crew are well-conditiond and there is a belief that ultimate fitness and conditioning as well as passion will lead to success.

It is hard to judge him as a Super Rugby coach, as we have not seen quite enough of the Lions under him yet. As mentioned before, he took over a sinking ship in 2012 and basically went through the motions for the remainder of that season. The one thing Johan should know is that this is Super Rugby and not the Lions challenge, we will soon find out if he has what it takes to get the Lions out of their usual last position finish in Super Rugby.

He will be assisted by Swys de Bruin as assistant coach.


Cell C Sharks: Jake White:

Jake WhiteJake White will always be known as a World Cup winning coach. He took the Springboks to Rugby World Cup glory in 2007 after coaching the Springboks from 2004 onwards.

In 2012 we saw his familiar face at the Brumbies where he took them from a struggling side in 2011 to a mid table finish in 2012 to finalists in 2013.

Jake White has had a long coaching career, first as a School Coach in Johannesburg and thereafter rising through the coaching ranks.

He coached Springboks like John Smit in their Junior Springbok days, taking them to victory in their age group in the World.

His success at Junior Springbok level is what elevated him to Springbok coach after the disaster years of Rudolf Streauli and Harry Viljoen.

In his fist year as Springbok coach in 2004 he managed to win the Tri-Nations but he was also known for picking some sub-standard Springboks sides in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup of 2007. Having won the 2007 World Cup we tend to forget the beatings the Springboks took at times under Jake White.

At the end of 2006 Jake was nearly sacked by SARU and a large part of the South African public was calling for his head, before 2007 yeilded the World Cup title.


His coaching career is as follows:

  • Early 200’s – Junior Springbok coach
  • 2004 – Springbok coach
  • 2005 – Springbok coach
  • 2006 – Springbok coach
  • 2007 – Springbok coach, Winning World Cup
  • 2012 – Brumbies head coach, Brumbies finished 7th
  • 2013 – Brumbies head coach, Brumbies lost in the final to the Chiefs.

Jake is a good coach and does well with players. He has the ability to make players believe in him, his structures and his game plan. In the early years he worked very well with young talent, as only an ex-school teacher can do.

There is no doubt that he will do well with the squad at the Sharks and a 1st place in the SA conference is not too distant in our thinking. Jake has one serious charcter flaw and that is that he often does not know when to shut his mouth and stop talking. This has caused a lot of problems for him in the past and with past employers like SARU. The second inherrent flaw he has is that he is known for going a bit off-road to achieve a different end result.

He will be assisted by Brad McLeod-Henderson and Sean Everitt as assistant coaches.


DHL Stormers: Allister Coetzee:

Allister CoetzeeAllister Coetzee has been around the block.

He was part of Jake White’s World Cup winning Springbok coaching staff and moved on from there to Stormers backline coach.

He  now finds himself as the Stormers head coach, a postion he has held since 2010.

Coetzee has coached and advocated one solitary style of rugby since taking the reigns at the Stormers and this is that defense wins you games and tournaments. So far his stance has produced a South African Conference title but no Silverware of consequence in Super Rugby.

The Stormers had the best defensive record in 2010, 2011 and 2012, but their attacking play was limited, stoid and predictable in the process.

The price for overly elabotating and concentrating on defence has had a price to pay, as the Stormers have rarely scored more than 3 tries per match, when they have been known to have some of the most lethal individual backline players in their midst. In the process bonus points in a Super Rugby season has been a rarity at the Stormers under Allister Coetzee.


His coaching career is as follows:

  • 2004 – Springbok assistant coach
  • 2005 – Springbok assistant coach
  • 2006 – Springbok assistant coach
  • 2007 – Springbok assistant coach
  • 2008 – Stormers backline coach
  • 2009 – Stormers backline coach
  • 2010 – Stormers head coach, Stormers finished 2nd, losing to the Bulls in the final
  • 2011 – Stormers head coach, Stormers finished 2nd on the Log, losing to the Crusaders in the semi-final
  • 2012 – Stormers head coach, Stormers finished 1st on the Combined Log, but losing to the Sharks in the semi-final
  • 2013 – Stormers head coach, Stormers finished 7th and 3rd in SA conference.

Allister is a good coach and has proven that in Super Rugby the last couple of season. Here are some of the problems you may encounter from Allister during the season. He is very loyal to certain players, so don’t be surprised if some of his team selections do not make any sense. He prefers a defensive game plan, so again don’t expect too many bonus points for 4 or more tries in matches. There seems to be a barrier of 3 tries per match by the Stormers under Allister Coetzee, any more and it was by pure miracle or accident.

Allister Coetzee will have to work on his selection process and not pick Peter Grant ahead of Dimetri Catrakilis, for example. The Stormers were doing well in Super Rugby but had a huge dip in 2013. Hopefully this can be rectified and they could advance towards the top of the Log again.

He will be assisted by Robbie Fleck and Mathew Proudfoot as assistant coaches.

26 Responses to Super Rugby 2014: SA Conference Coaches

  • 1

    Cheetahs did play an exciting brand of rugby last year, but it was certainly a lot more balanced than in previous years. The defence was pretty good too. In seasons past they scored many tries, but conceded more than they scored, which caused them to lose many matches by small margins.

    Last year they reversed that trend. They have the strike runners this year to score plenty of tries, so if they can maintain or improve their standard of defence, there is no reason why it can’t be another good year for the Cheetahs and their coaches

  • 2

    Yeah I kind of agree. Cheetahs made a lot of kicks last year. Their secret weapon was their defence Where Lappies, Van der walt and Robert defended like demons. The defence allowed them to maintain pressure, whereis other years they would easily concede a lot of field position so they may habe ran with the ball more, but it never carried over on the tries scored statistics.

    Last year they were tenth on the list of tries scored with 38. Three tries less than the Bulls, 12 less than the chiefs and 8 more than the stormers.

    In 2012 they also tenth with 35 tries, scoring 15 tries less than the Bulls and 23 less than the hurricanes.

    Their secret weapon has been their defence, so I think it is important to mention that their defensive coach has left and has not been replaced.

  • 3

    actually the cheetahs were eleventh in try scoring stats last year.

    When you look at tries against in 2012 They where 11th with 47 tries conceded compared to the best defending team the stormers. with 21.

    In 2013 the cheetahs conceded just 32 and the were the sixth best team when just looking at tries conceded.

  • 4

    Very interesting article Timothy, it shows as far as Super rugby goes that Frans Ludeke is by far the most successful of the SA franchise coaches, although considering all the assistants its harder to decide who has the overall best coaching team. Free State have good scrum/forwards and backline assistants, Stormers reall good defensive assistant, while am not so sure about Blue Bulls assitants, at least I’m guessing Pieter Rossouw will be backline coach so there should be good continuity there. One thing I don’t think we can underestimate is the influence a World Cup winning coach, Jake White, will have at Sharks.

  • 5

    And they lost their defense coach and Naka decided not to replace him.
    Bad move as teams change their attacking tactics and you need a specialist to help the team adjust.

    Naka said the basics were laid and they will just continue with the approach of last year
    Time will tell…

  • 6

    2 @ MacroBull:
    Puts a different perspective on things MacroBull those numbers, the exciting running Cheetahs scored 38 tries in 17 games while Jake White is quoted as saying he regards Saracens as a kicking team, they have scored 38 tries in 12 Premiership games already this season, just shows that the perception and stereotypical labels that teams pick up can be hard to get rid of. Also at the moment Saracens, who top the Premiership log have a slightly higher try scoring rate per games than the Chiefs who won Super rugby last year did, again there is the perception of Super rugby being an all encompassing exciting competition while northern hemisphere rugby is boring.

  • 7

    OK fellas, it’s hard to go on holiday but someone has to do it… hehehe

    Off I go, behave yourselves… already running 40 min late… eish!

    Will see if I can get to watch the Sarries / Sharks match somewhere on the weekend.


  • 8

    @ grootblousmile:
    Enjoy, Boet!!

  • 9

    Vodacom cup warm up game in Kempton Park, halftime: Valke 17/10 Blue Bulls

  • 10

    Valke scored a try soon after game started and just on halftime. Rudy v Rooyen has scored all Blue Bulls points so far, scoring and converting a try and adding a penalty

  • 11

    8 min into 2nd half Valke player gets a yellow card, Valke 17/10 Blue Bulls

  • 12

    9 min into 2nd half Valke 17/17 Blue Bulls, try by Daniel Kriel converted by Tony Jantjies

  • 13

    Valke went straight back to 15 players after the yellow card as coaches had agreed to bringing on subs for yellow cards

  • 14

    Valke 17/17 Blue Bulls 21min into 2nd half water break

  • 15

    Valke 22/17, unconverted try 22min into 2nd half

  • 16

    from rugby365
    The business of poaching/attracting schoolboy rugby players has reached enormous proportions in the Valke Rugby Union.

    It has even reached the stage where a charge of kidnapping is reported to have been laid with the police against two members of the staff of Dr EG Jansen of Boksburg, the destination of two Under-14 schoolboys who are excellent rugby players.
    Happy-Grin as obelix would say: “these romans are crazy”!!


  • 17

    bullscot 9 – 15 (sounds like a bible verse, lol)
    stop arguing with yourself!! Happy-Grin

  • 18

    Final score: Valke 22/17 Blue Bulls, ouch, well done Valke

  • 19

    @ Ashley:
    hi Ash gotta try convert somebody Happy-Grin

  • 20

    @ Ashley:
    so Ashley are you converted yet after all bullscot 9 vers 15 se mos DIE BULLE IS DIE BESTE (ja die beste nie die beeste) Approve Whistling

  • 21

    Sitting drinking a sundowner on the balcony of a wooden chaler, overlooking a gorgeous kloof, here at De Voetpad Kloof, not too far away from Loskopdam in Mpumalanga…

    Nog ‘n slukkie….

    Wat maak julle?


  • 22

    @ grootblousmile:
    Ag lekker ou pel enjoy your weekend away there sounds brilliant. As was wearing my South African rugby top and matching beard (you can check gesigboek to be sure) I made us pap and word and sheeba for tea this side, good stuff.

  • 23

    “I cannot see the Bulls doing much this season and under current circumstances a top 10 finish will be incredible.”

    Hmmmm. Ok, good. Write the Bulls off before the tournament even starts. Thats the way we like it.

  • 24

    Was this not the Bulls b team?

  • 25

    24 @ Loosehead:
    More like a “C” team… Vodacom Cup side minus a heap of the Extended Super Rugby squad.

    The Bulls “B” side will play at Polokwane against the Lions “B” side on 1 Feb, I think, as curtain raiser to the Bulls / Stormers warm-up match.

  • 26

    24 @ Loosehead:
    Had posted it on one of the threads a few days ago, not sure which one but here is the Blue Bulls team that played Valke yesterday : Damian van Wyk, Keegan Gordon, Daniel Kriel, Leighton van Wyk, Marcus Kleinbooi, Tony Jantjies, Lohan Jacobs, Clyde Davids, Christiaan de Bruyn, Heinrich Viljoen, Schalk van Heerden, Irne Herbst, Wilco Louw, Corniel Els, Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: Jan Enslin, Neethling Fouche, Piet-Louw, Strauss, Nqobisiwe Mxoli, Jean Droste, Corne Cooper, Rudi van Rooyen, JP Smith, Lood de Jager, Marquite September.


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