Guest Columnist

Divorce or counseling for Div?

2010-09-10 09:26
Lance Witten
Lance Witten

I’ve been married for four years. I met her on my second day of high school and said to myself, “One day, I’m going to marry this girl.”

That was back in 1995. I remember the year clearly – the Boks won their first World Cup, the final was played on my 13th birthday (watching Invictus brought back so many fond memories), and it also happened to be the day, and year, I fell in love with rugby.

My marriage has had its ups and downs, but what’s kept everything together – apart from love and hard work – is the fact that our friendship has spanned close on two decades. One can expect ups and downs. One can expect near failures. One can expect to make bad decisions, and one can expect to have to answer for those decisions. But we didn’t give up. We still refuse to give up.

Why do I bore you with my marital bliss? The relationship between a national coach and the sports-mad public is very similar to a marriage. Sometimes, there’s no better partner in the world. Sometimes, you’re just stuck with this person in your life. I don’t purport to know every crucial piece of history but the first time I thought “What is this marriage coming to?” was when Joel Santana was in charge of Bafana Bafana.

Ok, that’s a lie. The first time I really thought that was after Kamp Staaldraad. What was Rudolph Straeuli thinking?

Now I find myself looking at the Peter de Villiers conundrum. It’s a year before the IRB World Cup kicks off. There’s no way you want to change coaches now. But perhaps keeping Divvy around will do more harm than good. Are we looking elsewhere? Will we return to the successful poker-player in Jake White? Was Divvy just a caretaker? I believed in Divvy, but his actions have given me reason to doubt.

Before the outbound tour at the end of 2008, I was standing on the UCT rugby fields while the Boks were doing something that closely resembled Thai Chi. One media oke quipped: “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Springbok.” That gave me confidence. Did Div know something we didn’t? Was this new-age style going to see us retain the William Webb-Ellis Trophy? Sadly, now, I look back and have to call it bullshit.

Now I’m wondering how our mustachioed crusader is going to wiggle his way out of this one. Because one thing I know about men from Paarl, is that they can get out of anything.

Minister of Sport and Recreation, Makhenkesi Stofile is an awesome guy - I’ve met him a few times, and I get the feeling he always measures his words. His tack and rhetoric is something Div could make good use of. And when Stofile comes out and says, “Div, get a spokesperson, you’ve gone too far,” I begin to wonder.

Now, in the context of a marriage, one has to think very seriously about whether a prescription of counseling will do the trick, or if perhaps it’s best to kiss and say goodnight (to borrow a line from the Manhattans) – because there is no point in staying in a loveless marriage.

Perhaps worse still is staying in it for the kids. The kids in this analogy, being the Springbok team … And at this stage I don’t know who’ll be more psychologically damaged: the team, or the masses who truly believe Div needs another chance. Perhaps he’ll change …

Lance is the sport anchor at E-TV, and had an itch to scratch

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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