Of professionalism and transformation


Since 1910, of the records I can find, we’ve played 334 matches…

Won 207 (63.69%)

Lost 102

Drew 16

Yet, we lost 58 of those 102 since 1993 in 169 matches and drew 4. Won 98.

So, if we strip out the era since 1993 we arrive at:

Played: 165

Won: 109 (71%)

Lost: 44

Drew: 12

Which means that our winning percentage was 71% prior to amalgamating the various bodies and stepping out on our brave road to a new future.

The All Blacks, to date, with absolutely no social upheaval, have a winning percentage of 74%.

Strip out all the wins we’ve provided them since 1993 – or at least a good deal of them, and extrapolate if South Africa could have forged forward with none of the political disruption and we’d be very close, if not better.

There are two major issues that hammered our record:

One, even though we were ‘shamateurs’ or semi-professional for quite a while, SARU never took the real steps to go utterly professional. They still haven’t.

Two, there has been a premium to pay for transformation, whether it was in carrying non-entities like Judge Nkanunu, Arthrob Petersen or entertaining empire sackers like Brian van Rooyen or a host of other nonsense at every level.

However, that’s not to say that transformation, per se, was bad, it was the application of transformation from the very first day that was abysmal with white kingmakers holding onto power by jiggling puppet strings in the background whilst appointing public window dressers.

This process, and absorbing the unexpected riches from the News Corp deal, so occupied their time that they totally took their eye off the ball of ensuring genuine merit transformation was taking place in lower structures.

If they’d taken a serious and professional approach to this back in 1993, Jake White wouldn’t be caught in verbal semantics today, Jake White wouldn’t be playing players we all know are not the best in their position today.

Hindsight is an exact science and it would be stupid to downplay the very real fears that existed back in 1993 but it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that if we’d really embraced professionalism back then, if we’d really taken a sincere and genuine approach to transformation in a responsible manner, we’d be much closer to an overall 71% than our real 63%.

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  1. Ras

    Sp we have played 169 matches since 1993. Right?

    We won 98. Right?

    We draw 4. Right?

    That means we have lost 67 matches.

    98 + 4 + 67 = 169

    Thus our winning % = 58%

    and our losing % = 40 %

    draw % = 2 %

    58% compared to All Blacks 74% is a real shocker.

    What are the All Blacks record since 1993?

    Now that will be a real eye opener pf note.

    Can you provide us those stats RAS?

  2. I have the perception that our age group teams do quite well against the top nations, even with 7 or more non white players being selected.

    Is it just a question of another year or two until more of these players start coming through ? I hope so. Or is SARU losing them between age group and senior rugby ?

    The avg. age of the EOY tour squad was 26, if I recall correctly. SA won the U21 world championship last in 2005, and played in the 2006 final. If our “quota” players can beat these guys when they are at U21 they should be competitive for the next ten years. Or does that tell us that the overseas U21 player is going into a more professional environment than our players and that is where we fall behind ? Or maybe our white coaches are not giving them the opportunities and backing ? Maybe the truth falls somewhere between these two.

  3. Must not bite, must not bite, must not…

    Ag fok it.

    Ras, you know this is a lot of hogwash. If you look at the teams that have played since readmission, and list the substandard players, how many black players would there be? How many of them cost us results?

    Jannes Labuschagne? Oh no, he’s white.
    Jorrie Muller? Uh, no again.

    I could go on, and on, and on.

    Then look at some of the plonkers we’ve had as coaches. John Williams and the readmission tour. Harry Viljoen and his running vision that entailed recalling Braam van Straaten. Rudolf Streauli and camp staaldraad. and finally Jake White who has won 1 out of thirteen away matches against top rugby opposition.

    And Jake’s teams have hardly suffered because of having to select balck players. His black selections typically hold tackle bags or warm the bench.

    However, the one thing you’re right about is the mob we have parading as professional administrators. Amateurism still haunts our game.

  4. SS,

    Perhaps you’d be kind enough to read it again, I don’t mention players at all, except for in my second last paragraph.

    I’m saying that instead of adopting a thoroughly professional approach and sincerely addressing transformation, SARU fiddled around with compliant but useless officials – throughout the various levels of our rugby.

    This has affected the professional standards of ALL our players, black and white.

    As for my second last paragraph, why is Jake White, 13 years after amalgamation, still being forced to select players everyone knows are not the best? Precisely because of what I stated earlier, we are not professional and we haven’t approached transformation professionally.

    It’s not acceptable to have an inferior bench in modern rugby, you can’t hide players on your bench because you should be using your bench as part of your match strategy.

    Jake White’s biggest failing as coach, IMO, has been the professional and timely use of his bench. I’d go as far as to say his bench policy is generally a disaster.

    Inferior players holding tackle bags also doesn’t create the competitive environment you want on a tour, with everyone pushing everyone else for positions.

    We have about 30 players of colour in the country with the potential to go all the way. What should be done is for each of these players to be thoroughly scrutinised and analysed, identify their weaknesses and get professionals in to address those weaknesses.

    In a professional environment this would be happening for all players, regardless of race, as a matter of course.

    All the political infighting, parliamentary committees, appointing compliant officials has weakened our rugby body. It’s been a waste of resources and a waste of time. SARU have spent so much time fighting political bushfires and pandering to the likes of Mike Stofile that they haven’t been focussed on the goal of creating a highly skilled, professional body where all are appointed on the basis of what particular professional skills they bring to the party.

    That’s the cost I mean, not the players, who I have no doubt would have been professionally developed in a country like New Zealand.

    The great news is that as more and more players are coming through the system it’s raised the bar and spurred competition for places.

    It will be interesting to see what interest foreign clubs show in our black players over the next 5 to 10 years. I suspect we’ll know we are really getting there when more and more players are the target of overseas agents.

    Off the top of my head I can think of Breyton Paulse, Wylie Human and Quinton Davids as having had experience with foreign clubs.

    Obviously there are a couple of extenuating circumstances here, players like Rathbone with his Australian connection, guys like Vickerman & Rawlinson wanting to emigrate and a host of whities with access to foreign passports all makes it easier for foreign clubs to attract them.

    Still, there are loads of white players who don’t fall into those categories and we’ll really know we’re getting somewhere when foreign clubs are trying to sign the likes of Bobo, Tyibilika, Andrews, Sephaka etc.

    Anyway, I’m rambling now, in conclusion – there has been nearly a 10 per cent drop in our results since we amalgamated the various bodies and went into the professional era.

    It is unarguable that we haven’t taken to the professional era with the same fluidity that New Zealand did.

    In my personal opinion, and that’s all it is, the unfortunate convergence of trying to absorb the amalgamation, deal with transformation and move into a 100% professional environment all at the same time have all contributed to that 10% loss of efficacy.

    It’s not an issue the New Zealanders have ever faced. All their resources could be harnessed towards striving for perfection from day one.

    At no level – be it age group, Maori, A team, Composite teams or All Blacks – do the New Zealanders ever put out anything other than their very best teams. This continually forces the bar higher.

    At no level are they forced to consider whether a ref, coach, manager, development officer or administrator has PI, Pakeha or Maori origins, they simply select the best candidate for the job regardless.

    I think it’s iniquitous to posit that this hasn’t had some effect on our fortunes.

    The optimistic view is that we seem to have bottomed out from that upheaval and if we ever really get our act together on professional development we really are going to be a constant force to be reckoned with again.

  5. I also think that Super rugby has taught a generation of our players how to be losers. For whatever reason this tournament sees the SA teams travel more and stay away longer. In competitive sport any slight advantage translates into a win on the field. The format of the competition is to some small degree biased against the SA teams.

    If we want to have professionalism at all levels we shouldn’t be in a compo that puts our guys at a disadvantage before the games even kick off.

  6. Apologies Ras – I was responding to the headline. While your examples refer to political administration appointments, it wasn’t clear that this was all you were referring to.

    I was responding referring to transformation in general. My take on transformation is perhaps different. It is based on hands on business experience and some serious thought about my future in this country and what it has to achieve in order to be a success.

    As you know, I posted on this and believe that if rugby is to remain relevant and actually be a success for South Africa as a whole, it needs to show more succesful black players (and administrators actually).

    I would agree that the biggest screw up has been the failure of rugby’s development programme. As long as rugby is not being played on good fields in the townships, it will remain inaccesible to the majority of the population.

    HOWEVER, I believe the treatment of black players has been nothing short of abysmal. Think of the investment in players like Shimange, Sephaka, et al. What a waste to rob them of game time and give them five minutes here and there. Surely the only way to truly build these players is to give them run-on time in consecutive games, building their confidence and experience.

    My bottom line contention is that SARU needs to improve transformation efforts, we need more black Springboks, and that efforts thus far by almost all involved have shown poor results.

    Perhaps the political shenanigans have had some impact on results of the Boks (I do not want to be labelled iniquitous! ).

    But I can think of many other events that must have had far greater impact – such as Jake White’s expression of interest in the English director of rugby job in the days leading up to a test. Not wanting to be accused of being anti-Jake (I’m not), there have been many other contributions, not least of which is our players poor touring aptitude, poor skills levels, questionable game plans and selections.

    I would have listed those issues first with regard to the post readmission results.