Transformation has been a ripe topic in the last few weeks and unfortunately is not going away and the best we can do is find ways to make it work and happen, writes Benedict Chanakira.
We are looking to give equal opportunities to all players and coaches alike but the sad reality is, the system is broken. For years we have labelled the blame entirely at SARU’s door and at times it has been well warranted but the problem lies in the Unions as well. They are responsible for offering opportunities and allowing everyone to get a crack at coaching or playing, allowing everyone to earn the right.
It is in the coaching area which we see a system flawed beyond recognition. A few years ago we saw Victor Matfield bounce between coaching and playing, which was surprising because it was down to his superior knowledge as a player. If only the realisation be noted that playing and coaching are two hemispheres apart; as stark as the playing styles of New Zealand and Italy.
This week a familiar story broke out of former Springbok and Blue Bulls assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher taking up a role to help coach Pretoria Boys High under 14 rugby team. Credit to the school for appointing the former Springbok coach, however unions must take a closer look at themselves seriously……..Are you kidding me?
This is what is wrong with the system, from coaching at World Cups to either Monday night University matches or early Saturday morning games. It just feels like an insult. Peter de Villiers also pops to mind when you realise a man who once coached the Springboks can’t find a single job in South Africa at any of the Unions.
How is this even possible? These are both men that have been left in the wilderness. One is involved at the lowest level (under 14) of High School rugby and the other helping out in Namibia. It’s because they are surplus to requirements in their own country. These two are the highest profile names available, but that’s not where the real problem lies.
It is my understanding that every union has, or is supposed to have a coaching association who controls coaching education and the development pathways for accredited coaches. This means somewhere someone should have a very clear idea of how many coaches we have in each union, their relevant accreditation and experience, and whether in fact they are actively coaching?
More importantly, it should also be the responsibility of the coaching association to ensure that only coaches’ with the relevant experience and accreditations are considered for professional coaching positions in each union. But considering how coaches are appointed currently and the fact that Level 2 and in some instances even Level 3 coaches aren’t even coaching at school and club level it becomes apparent this system is completely fractured or non-existent. Not to just mention coaches of color but ALL coaches who have had to suffer being ignored or not even considered. A wealth of knowledge neglected to facilitate names earned in playing and not coaching.
Unfortunately this process is rarely used, instead appointments are done on who coached you at high school, who did you play for and it has showed up South African coaching. There is no succession in most capacities.
The SA A coach should be elected as a man that will likely take over the Springbok role. He must be familiar to the systems, players and should provide SA with clarity. I have to credit the Blue Bulls in this instance as they managed to reward the next coaches in line. When they appointed the under 19 and 21 coaches to their Currie Cup and Super Rugby roles.
Surprisingly in most of the Unions in South Africa, you will get a list of qualified coaches and in some instances Level 3 coaches who are either not in the game at club level or not involved at all. You wonder why New Zealand coaches are lauded as the best in the business.
You ask why these coaches don’t get a fair shot. Their Unions don’t deem them not the right fit and it becomes the same old problem of rather appointing an ex-player to take up the role of coaching a side or someone who has connections or family in the Union.
The system is fractured. South Africa takes pride in educating the most coaches in the world, yet some of them find themselves in shadows. Those who have been afforded years to develop player skills have been shown up on countless occasion. Can we get a criteria to appoint coaches that have earned their stripes? How can men who have coached the highest side in the land be unable to land at most a decent coaching role? Surely their experience can prove useful at one of the struggling Unions in the country at the very least or even at Junior Currie Cup levels?
South African rugby Unions need to take a look at themselves and step up. Come to the ball game and be willing to play on a similar level with everyone. Pieter de Villiers will be remembered for his quirks and bizarre rants but the man has a rugby brain. A curriculum Vitae that very few will be aware of. I met the man a few months ago and it is just ridiculous he can’t play a part in the growth and development of the game in the country. The system is non-existent. It needs to be fixed.