Benedict Chanakira visits the East London sides and gives his views.
I decided to look into the fight between the union and Pty. Accusations of racism, lack of transformation and why the minnows, including Border, would vote against the expansion of the Currie Cup Premier Division? The strongest of accusations and one that is familiar in South Africa has been where the race card has been used. The voting? A decision taken by the amateur set up without consulting the professional side. A hasty decision that had nothing to do with rugby at all. One has to wonder if rugby administrators have no idea what benefits their Union, what are they there for?
`I managed to visit the Border Rugby Union for four days to see how it is run. I spoke to people who didn’t know me; from the current coaches he works with, to the men that work at the gate, members of Flanagan’s coaching staff and players he currently coaches and has coached in the past.
Direct opposite of the media frenzy I’ve read. Instead I have heard of his humble desire for excellence; his need to see the players fulfill their potential and the friendly smile and greeting every morning. Instead of being a coach only, he acts as a father figure, checking on the well being of his players daily.
Reports I read and witnessed are different. In most cases, this may have been a scenario of players that were not skillful enough and were dropped to work on their weaknesses; blaming racism for their inabilities to meet the criteria’s needed at Currie cup level.
Another factor contrary to reports saw Border have four players of color selected in the South Africa Presidents’ XV on merit. A side selected on the criteria of the ‘best players in the First division.’
This also revealed the new structures of coaching and conditioning that were in place. The Vodacom Cup was also used for player development which saw the side win their last two games. Coaching staff also watched club games and made enquiries about players with potential. This system would prevent players from being pulled up to the squad after notable adjustments. The administration would publicly blast coaches for the players not getting opportunities while they sabotage them behind closed doors. What is it all about? Rugby? or other ulterior motives that need to be questioned?
Paul Flanagan has insisted that it is not about him, but rather the sponsors and especially his players. He praised the leadership of some outstanding individuals in the form of Gareth Krause, Chumani Booi, Blake Kyd and Brian Shabangu, to mention a few. Against all odds, the union won’t let them develop. Its a pity rugby has come to being overshadowed by all these allegations, resulting in us forgetting the true meaning of the game.
Border Rugby is on a rise and this is evident in the results. The current management have been given little credit for the amounts of work they have done. On a low budget and restricting constraints they have made more progress in two years than has been seen in the last eight years. With only one senior coach who has to cover forwards, back, scrums, lineouts, kicking, tactics, conditioning and logistics; this is a huge step forward. We will keep an eye on the Border situation and hope for the sake of the beautiful game that this Union continues to rise.
These are the new pioneers of the Union. Flanagan’s management team have had a trial for the first two seasons and statistics have shown that the trials where successful. . If given an opportunity this Bulldog will show a lot more bite…