South African rugby is heading towards a coaching crisis and needs to be addressed as soon as possible, various experts have warned this week.
Former Bulls coach Chris Buitendach added his voice to the growing wave of concern over the state and depth of quality coaching in the country.
“It is a huge concern. 20 Years back we had a coaching conference and I said if we are not proactive in the training of coaches we won’t have quality coaches left,” Buitendach said at the launch of an international coaching conference in Pretoria on Friday.
“The biggest problem we have in South Africa is we don’t have a pathway where we identify coaches like we do with players.”
Buitendach said the country had a wealth of players but there were few coaches that could boast with a ‘CV of success’ while there was no formal plan to bring coaches through the ranks.
“At the moment we are in trouble, we have Franco Smith and Johan Ackermann, who else?” he asked.
The new ASICS-designed and manufactured Springbok jersey for the Rugby World Cup was launched at a glittering event in Cape Town on Thursday, with the 100 day mark to the start of the global showpiece fast approaching.
The launch of the iconic jersey is the culmination of months of hard work by scientists at the ASICS Institute of Sport Science in Kobe, Japan, in collaboration with the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
Jean de Villiers, Tendai Mtawarira, Eben Etzebeth, Bismarck du Plessis, Duane Vermeulen, Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks and Pat Lambie took part in an extensive testing programme in Japan to fine tune the final product. They were accompanied by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and other members of the management team.
The main aims in the design of the Springboks’ apparel were to reduce weight without compromising on strength. The jersey for the 2015 Rugby World Cup will be the lightest ever worn by South Africa, at 70 grams lighter than any previous jersey.
It also has smooth surface making it harder than ever before to keep hold of in the tackle, while an area which has seen significant development after player insight is the Super-Grip silicone which features on the chest of the jersey.
Duane Vermeulen’s reported move to France appears all the more likely after the Springbok and Stormers No 8 rejected a contract offer from the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
Vermeulen would have been the highest earning Springbok had he accepted SARU’s offer.
His decision to reject the offer from SARU adds fire to reports earlier this year that linked him with a move to French club Toulon.
Oregan Hoskins, President of the South African Rugby Union, has applauded the life bans handed down to 3 players of the Fort Beaufort Barbarians Club for physically assaulting a referee.
The trio – Edmund Gunn, Clayton Bantom and Hyron Burgess – were found guilty of assaulting referee Llewellyn Loots at a pre-season tournament in the Eastern Cape town of Bedford on 28 February.
They were sentenced by an Eastern Province Rugby Union disciplinary committee.
The Fort Beaufort Barbarians Club was also suspended from all rugby activities for the rest of the year by the committee.
They were found guilty of bringing the Eastern Province Rugby Union into disrepute by failing to ensure the safety of the match official and by not assisting the union in identifying other players believed to have been a party to the assault.
It has emerged that a contractual dispute with the South African Rugby Union (SARU) is the reason behind Vodacom Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe making himself unavailable for Springbok selection.
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer earlier this week said Van der Merwe was “unavailable for international rugby at the moment”.
The reasons behind Van der Merwe’s unavailability were described as “personal”.
However, Van der Merwe and SARU are at loggerheads because the player feels he was done an injustice when Springbok contacts were awarded.
Unlike lock partners Eben Etzebeth, Victor Matfield and Pieter-Steph du Toit, Van der Merwe apparently did not receive a similar national contract.
The DHL Stormers look likely to travel to Bloemfontein for their Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Toyota Cheetahs without star forwards Eben Etzebeth and Steven Kitshoff.
Etzebeth is due a rest related to the agreement between the South African Rugby Union and franchise chief executives, and after playing 4 consecutive games, this is the time to do it.
Kitshoff has started every one of the 10 games that the Stormers have played this season and coach Allister Coetzee has for a while now been talking about the need to manage him, particularly now that the Stormers’ participation in the play-off stages is starting to look more likely.
“It will be a good thing to give Kitshoff a bit of a breather and get him ready for the rest of the competition,” said Coetzee.
Some members of the South African Rugby Referees Association (SARRA) are at loggerheads with SARU’s manager of referees, André Watson, and this has now come to a head at a meeting with an independent arbitrator.
The result is that there was a hearing on Thursday and Friday of last week involving the arbitrator and members of the SARRA, including Watson and other members of the SARRA’s staff and panel referees. At the heart of the matter is the unhappiness of some SARRA members with Watson’s management over the 11 years that he has been in office.
There is as yet no official outcome to the meetings but the meetings are likely to be resumed at some stage this week and perhaps run over into next week.
South African Rugby Union President Oregan Hoskins has spoken out strongly against the inconsistency of recent rulings at disciplinary tribunals.
Hoskins is incensed by what he believes to be the unfair handling of cases involving South African players – compared with their New Zealand and Australian counterparts.
He referred to the recent harsh bans handed to Sharks players Bismarck du Plessis (4 weeks), Frans Steyn (5 weeks) and Jean Deysel (7 weeks) – while similar offences by Kiwi and Aussie players received more lenient treatment.
“I didn’t intend to go to the media on this,” Hoskins said.
“But frankly, I’ve just had enough.
Cell C Sharks boss Gary Gold said if he had the choice he would not be resting veteran Springboks Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira against a formidable Lions scrum this weekend.
Gold has made a number of changes to the team that will travel up to Johannesburg to take on South Africa’s form team this weekend.
Some of these changes are enforced due to injury, some because of suspension and others the result of a selection rethink.
However, Gold seems least pleased about the fact that he needs to rest his key front row Springboks in accordance with SARU’s player management initiative.
“If I had an opportunity to play Jannie and Beast this weekend, I would,” Gold said ahead of the trip up to Ellis Park.
“These are decisions that were made at a higher level, and as bizarre as they are, they were made, and as much as I can stick to them, I am going to try and stick to them.”
The SARU national selectors have named a squad of 37 players for the Junior Springbok training camp in preparation for the 2015 World Rugby Under 20 Championship to be played during June in Italy. The group will assemble in Stellenbosch on Easter Monday.
The revised training squad was confirmed after a 4-day trials camp last week in Stellenbosch.
The group includes several players who are currently busy with Vodacom Super Rugby, Vodacom Cup and Varsity Cup commitments.
These players, such as Thomas du Toit, Dan du Preez (both Cell C Sharks) and Hanro Liebenberg (Vodacom Blue Bulls) will join the training camp at a later stage.
Dawie Theron, the Junior Springbok coach, described last week’s trials camp as a very good exercise.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) made a small operating profit – exceeding forecasts – in a very difficult economic environment, the Union announced on Tuesday.
SARU reported a group profit before taxation of R 6.6 million for the year ended 31 December 2014, R 5 million ahead of budget and the 4th successive year of profit. A deferred taxation charge of R 4.7 million resulted in after tax profit declined to R 1.9 million.
Jurie Roux, chief executive officer (CEO) of SARU, said that rugby – like any South African business – remained under continuing financial constraints.
“The consistent theme over recent years has been the extreme financial pressure being felt in all corners of the game,’ he said.
Vodacom Bulls Springboks Victor Matfield and Jan Serfontein will both be rested against the Emirates Lions this week, in accordance with the franchises’ agreement with SARU.
Matfield has started every match for the Bulls this season, bar 1 game where he came off the bench against the Western Force a fortnight ago. Matfield is however nursing a knee injury and might be out for longer than 1 week, maybe even up to a month. Team doctor, Org Strauss confirmed that Victor Matfield is stuggling with the knee, but also said no decision has been made about Matfield’s fitness.
“He has a stiff knee, nothing too serious but we will make a decision later on in the week,” Dr Strauss replied to queries about Matfield’s fitness.
Meanwhile, Serfontein, who was named to play against the Crusaders last week even though he did not train due to a stiff hip flexor, will also earn a ‘rest’.
The Springbok centre failed to pass a late fitness test before the match and was replaced by Burger Odendaal at the 11th hour.
Odendaal was initially set to start his 1st game only for the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup after a lengthy injury lay-off for a knee ligament injury, but was thrust straight into Super Rugby in stead.
Odendaal had an impressive return to competitive rugby and it should be expected that he will again take up the No 12 spot, with Serfontein rested.
Meanwhile, another 11th-hour replacement that stepped up to make an indelible impression, Hanro Liebenberg, could again find himself in the starting 15.
The South African Rugby Union on Wednesday announced a large group of players to participate in the Junior Springbok trials camp early next month in Stellenbosch. The trials will kick-start the process to select the Junior Springbok squad of 28 players for the upcoming World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Italy in June.
The best local Under 20 players will assemble on Sunday 30 March at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS) and will remain in camp until 2 April. This will be followed by a break for the Easter holidays. The camp will feature 2 trial matches on Tuesday 31 March and Thursday 2 April respectively at the Paul Roos Markottër Stadium.
Players such as Thomas du Toit, Dan du Preez (both, Cell C Sharks), RG Snyman and Warrick Gelant (both, Vodacom Blue Bulls) who are currently busy with Vodacom Super Rugby commitments, were excluded from the trials squad. Duhan van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls) and Rikus Bothma (DHL Western Province) are currently injured and were not considered.
Following the trials, a smaller group of 34 players will return to SAS on 6 April for the Junior Springbok training camp. This training camp will include the following activities:
- Training exercises against the DHL Western Province Rugby Institute
- A match against a Varsity Cup select XV
- And a short tour of Argentina featuring two matches against the Los Pumitas
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and his SA Under 20 counterpart Dawie Theron recently renewed their BokSmart certification for a further 2 years.
Meyer renewed his certification in Pretoria last week, while Theron was joined by 3 members of the South African Rugby Union’s High Performance Mobi-Unit and Springbok coaching consultants, Pieter de Villiers, Louis Koen and Chean Roux, as well as Jacques Nienaber, High Performance Manager in the Rugby Department, in Cape Town earlier this month.
The biennial BokSmart certification is compulsory for anybody who wants to coach or referee rugby in South Africa at any level. The 3 Springbok assistant coaches, Johann van Graan, Ricardo Loubscher and John McFarland, are certified until 2016 while Springbok consultant Richie Gray will renew his certification later this year.
BokSmart provides coaches and referees with the knowledge and skills to apply safe rugby techniques and basic medical and injury prevention practices.
Race has become another sore point for the South African Rugby Union (SARU) when transformation in rugby was discussed in Parliament on Tuesday, according to reports.
Some MPs complained about the “white faces” in SARU’s delegation that presented to the portfolio committee on sport and recreation.
EFF MP Pebane Moteka asked: “If you do not even your leadership can transform, how are you transforming the sport?”
Solly Malatsi from the DA then tweeted that Saru’s presentation reminded him of “the unbearable whiteness of the state of South African rugby “.
SARU president Oregan Hoskins, who led the delegation, asked MPs to confirm that he was not white.
“Honourable members, look at us and say we are all white men.
The Springbok trio of Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee and Patrick Lambie are all expected to be rested for the Cell C Sharks’ showdown with the Western Force, in line with the agreement with SA Rugby over player management.
The 3 have earned the break after influential performances during the competition, and the good news that Frans Steyn was cleared to play means he may well take over the flyhalf position from Lambie, although the coaches may not want to break up his midfield partnership with JP Pietersen.
If the pair remain at No 12 and No 13 respectively, either Fred Zeilinga or Lionel Cronje will step into the number No 10 jersey, after solid performances for the Sharks XV in their Vodacom Cup clash on Saturday.
“It’s a huge boost that we will have Frans available, it provides massive stability to the team, especially due to the changes we will have with the resting of the Springboks,” said assistant coach Paul Anthony.
The Vodacom Bulls fully support the South African Rugby Union’s plan to rest key Springboks, but there won’t be a mass withdrawal of players at any stage.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said the next 5 weeks will see the Bulls rotate the players in a calculated move that is in line with the SARU plan.
In a meeting between SARU, the national body’s CEO, Jurie Roux, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, the various franchise CEOs and coaching representatives it was agreed that franchise coaches – as far as possible – would rest key Springboks at various stages in the season.
Two principles were identified as being ideal:
- That players should not play more than 5 consecutive weeks.
- That certain Springbok players should have a number of weeks of rest during the tournament (2 to 4 weeks depending on each player’s personal needs and position and the franchise’s playing resources). Bye weeks are not considered as a rest week (although they do trigger a restart of the count of consecutive weeks), while injury weeks are ‘invisible’ (i.e. a player injured for 2 weeks during the 1st 7 weeks of the tournament would be regarded as having played 5 consecutive weeks at the end of week 7).
However, the Sharks have already bucked the system – with coach Gary Gold having said his outfit is in a different position to other SA outfits.
The Bulls have opted to take a different stance.
After 5 games in a row for the Cell C Sharks’ Springboks, questions are being asked about the SARU player rest initiative and when the Durban-based team will buy in.
Gary Gold however has said the Sharks are in a different position to other teams in South Africa and as such have an alternative to it .
The Sharks have a core group of Springboks that play an integral part to both the union and the national team.
Players such as Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee and Pat Lambie to name a few.
However, with Super Rugby now reaching Round 6, and a large percentage of those Springboks being named to play their 6 game in a row against the Chiefs this Saturday, questions are being asked of the Sharks management.
Coach Gold explained his selection, and subsequent breaking of the SARU initiative, by stating the Sharks are facing a challenging schedule with regards to BYE-weeks.
The understanding reached between SARU and the participating franchises in Vodacom Super Rugby are as follows:
At a pre-season meeting between SARU’s CEO, the Springbok Coach and Rugby Department staff, with union CEOs and coaching representatives the desirability of managing the playing time of an identified group of Springbok players was agreed.
Two principles were identified as being ideal:
- That players should not play more than 5 consecutive weeks.
- That certain Springbok players should have a number of weeks of rest during the tournament (2 to 4 weeks depending on each player’s personal needs and position and the franchise’s playing resources).
Note: BYE weeks are not considered as a rest week (although they do trigger a restart of the count of consecutive weeks) while injury weeks are ‘invisible’ (i.e. a player injured for 2 weeks during the 1st 7 weeks of the tournament would be regarded as having played 5 consecutive weeks at the end of week 7).
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Wednesday confirmed its interest in bidding for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, following the announcement of the tender process by World Rugby.
Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU, reaffirmed the union’s commitment to bring the tournament back to South Africa, on the proviso of the approval of SASCOC – SA’s national Olympic Committee – and support of national government.
“We definitely expect to be bidding to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup – as we have for the past 3 tournaments,” said Roux.
The 2015 edition of the South African Rugby Annul goes on sale nationwide today after being launched at Sunday’s South African Rugby Union Awards in Johannesburg.
In keeping with tradition, the 44th edition of the ‘bible’ of the game once again features South Africa’s player of the year on the cover, with the newly-crowned Duane Vermeulen following in the footsteps of the likes of Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana and Schalk Burger in recent years.
“Even in this digital age, it’s vitally important to retain a physical document of record for future generations,” said SARU CEO, Jurie Roux. “SARU strives to be a world leader in the game both on and off the field and when it comes to the Annual, we are immensely proud of the quality of the book we continue to produce year in and year out.
“We like to believe that we have an outstanding yearbook but that hasn’t stopped us from raising the bar even further with this new-look, Rugby World Cup-themed edition. We’ve made it a more user-friendly size, refreshed the layout and added a depth to the statistical records that surpasses anything we’ve done before,” Roux added.
The growing trend of other countries poaching South African rugby players at a young age was a worrying one, SA Rugby Union (SARU) chief executive Jurie Roux said in Pretoria on Monday.
Speaking at the launch of the 2015 Varsity Cup, Roux said while SARU could not stop the migration of players to overseas clubs, they had to keep young talent in the country.
“What is worrying is the targeting of our younger players – they are grabbing them at Under 20 and players that we foresee playing for us,” Roux said at the Copperleaf Golf Estate.
“We’ve now changed the rule so thae second qualifying is playing for the South African Under 20 side, so if you’ve played for the Junior Springboks since 2013 you cannot play for another country.”
The newly-formed Soweto Rugby Union does not see itself as a ‘rebel’ entity and there is no immediate plan for the Soweto club to break away from the Golden Lions.
First conceptualised during the Soweto Sports Indaba of 2013 and then registered as a proprietary limited company in September last year, the SRU see themselves as a “township or a rural union that will give opportunities to the disadvantaged”.
However, there is no direct link between the club (SRC) and the union (SRU), other than both being based in the sprawling township on the South-Western borders of the City of Johannesburg.
An internal restructuring to streamline the identification, development and monitoring of players will be headed up by Rassie Erasmus as SARU looks to take sole responsibility for an unbroken pathway for players and coaches.
The restructuring indicates that SARU is trying to take a bigger role in the development of players right from the junior level to potentially Springboks.
The new structure has evolved from the former Development and High Performance departments, whose functions have been rationalised.
“The old departments worked hand-in-hand,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU.
Nizaam Carr and Handré Pollard lead the full list of nominees released by SARU on Wednesday for their annual Player of the Year Awards, which will take place on 8 February in Midrand.
Carr and Pollard, both of whom made their Test debuts for the Springboks this season, have both been nominated in three categories.
The 23-year-old Carr has been nominated in for the SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Currie Cup Player of the Year.
Pollard, who is only 20, has been nominated in the categories for SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and SA Under 20 Player of the Year.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) announced on Wednesday that it had assumed control of the financial and administrative affairs of the Border Rugby Football Union, following a resolution by the Union’s executive.
The union handed over control to SARU to allow Border’s operations to be normalised. No time limit has been put on SARU’s control. The decision was taken in November at SARU’s request.
The impact of the decision is that only SARU personnel will have signing powers on Border’s accounts. Monde Tabata, an East London-based member of the SARU Executive Council (Exco), has been confirmed as the Union’s administrator.
The odds are believed to have unexpectedly lengthened on Cape Town getting a stint soon in the HSBC Sevens World Series sun.
It is understood that, from a situation at roughly this time last year when it seemed a switch for the South African leg of the series from Port Elizabeth to the Mother City (and probably the under-used Cape Town Stadium, built for the 2010 soccer World Cup) was almost a fait accompli from the 2015/16 tournament onward, the Eastern Cape metropolis may instead get an extension of unknown duration.
The “Friendly City” stages its fourth successive Sevens jamboree this weekend, as the Blitzbokke try to match their feat in Dubai a few days ago of winning that leg; in doing so they advanced to second place behind Fiji on the global standings after two events of the 2014 / 2015 campaign.
It has been known for some time that tenders for a new hosting stint were going to be invited by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) after the latest PE staging of the Sevens.
Five Springboks have been nominated for the prestigious SA Rugby Player of the Year Award for 2014 with one of Nizaam Carr, Marcell Coetzee, Willie le Roux, Handré Pollard or Duane Vermeulen in line to claim the coveted annual award for the first time in their careers.
The five players, who all played for the Boks this year, have been nominated by the South African rugby media following a stellar year on the field. Springbok rugby fans across the globe will now be given a voice in the selection of the winner, SARU announced on Friday.
The public will also be asked to cast their votes in two other categories, Young Player and the Absa Team of the Year. To cast your vote, CLICK HERE.
Carr and Pollard have also being named in the Young Player category, along with Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla and Jan Serfontein. The Junior Springboks, Springboks, Springbok Sevens, DHL Western Province and Xerox Golden Lions have been nominated as Absa Team of the Year.
The South African Rugby Union received handy compensation from the Welsh Rugby Union for agreeing to play last weekend’s Test in Cardiff.
The Test at Millennium Stadium fell outside World Rugby’s international window, but was played after both rugby union’s agreed to square off.
According to reports, SARU received £750 000 (about R 13 Million) from the WRU for the Test.
European clubs targeting Springboks to join their cash-flush clubs after next year’s Rugby World Cup will this time have more of a fight on their hands than before, after the South African Rugby Union’s (SARU) Springbok contracts are likely to be enforced with more vigour.
In recent days we’ve seen growing reports of Boks that may be heading overseas after the Rugby World Cup. This week it was Duane Vermeulen’s link with a French club and Bath – the latter willing to offer around R7.8-million a year for the IRB Player of the year nominee’s services.
Previously both Flip van der Merwe and Eben Etzebeth have been linked with moves overseas to French clubs while sources in France tell of Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Hougaard, Willie le Roux and even Jan Serfontein being privately courted with offers to go overseas.
However, here is the catch. Those with Springbok contracts cannot enter into any negotiations with any club before 1 July 2015, leaving them a matter of 2 months to sort out their post-World Cup careers before the showpiece event takes place.
The dates and venues for all of SARU’s 2015 Youth Weeks rugby has been announced.
The 2015 Craven Week will be hosted at the Markötter Fields at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch as part of the school’s 150-year anniversary celebrations.
20 Springboks contracted by the SA Rugby Union (SARU) will take part in a training camp in Stellenbosch from October 20 to 24, the union announced on Sunday.
The camp forms part of the team’s preparations ahead of the Outgoing Tour next month.
“The Springboks are our first priority and the provinces have been very supportive, which we’re very thankful for,” SARU chief executive officer Jurie Roux said.
He hasn’t ruled it out completely, but Springbok centre Frans Steyn says it’s unlikely he’ll play international rugby again.
Steyn, 27, shocked the rugby fraternity in June this year when he made himself unavailable for Springbok selection shortly before a Test against Wales in Durban, after playing against a World XV in Cape Town the previous week.
It emerged that his decision to pull out of the Springbok squad was due to a monetary dispute with the South African Rugby Union (SARU) regarding his image rights, which were handled by a third party.
Former Springbok wing Chester Williams wants to get involved in transforming rugby in South Africa.
In an interview with the Cape Times, Williams said he supported the SA Rugby Union’s new Transformation Strategic Plan, which aims to bring all of South Africa’s representative rugby teams, along with domestic teams in line with national targets in five years.
SARU wants to make sure that by 2019 at least half the Springbok side consists of players of colour, with 60% of those required to be black African.
Trade union federation Cosatu says it wholeheartedly supports the SA Rugby Union’s plans to ensure that half the Springbok team is made up of players of colour by 2019.
SARU on Monday confirmed its Transformation Strategic Plan, which aims to bring all of South Africa’s representative rugby teams, along with domestic teams in line with national targets in five years.
SARU wants to make sure that by 2019 at least half the Springbok side consists of players of colour, with 60% of those required to be black African.