Tank Lanning

Does Coetzee deserve praise?

2015-05-28 09:54
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)

Scarra Ntubeni feeds a shorted Stormers lineout. Nizaam Carr, rising high above the opposition, accepts the ball gracefully, but instead of going to ground to start the driving maul or feed the scrumhalf from the top, turns in the air and hurls the ball - American football style - to centre Juan de Jongh.

Catching the opposition off guard, De Jongh gets through a half gap and offloads to a rampaging Siya Kolisi, specifically employed to run that straight line off the hot stepping centre. Kolisi neatly draws the opposition wing, feeds Cheslin Kolbe with a wonderful long pass to his left, which pulls the scrambling fullback wide to create a massive gap inside him which Dillyn Leyds, via a deft inside pass from Kolbe, makes full use of to score one of the more spectacular tries of the season.

Well, we can hope, can’t we? But if the above were to actually happen on Saturday evening against the Cheetahs, would coach Allister Coetzee want the media to quiz him on the amazing try, or the fact that that every player involved was a player of colour?

Shame, quite clearly having had enough about being asked about their lack of tries this season at Saturday evening’s post-Rebels match press conference, which has led to their inability to notch up four try bonus points, Coetzee was at pains to point out the “massive positive” of his side having included 11 players of colour, all selected on merit.

The thing is, though, is that most people do not care. I certainly don’t. In fact, not knowing what race classification Damien de Allende would find himself in, I chose not to include him in my example - lest I cause a stink by getting it wrong!

I do feel for Coetzee and other coaches getting transformation right, though, because there is a lot of pressure on them to do so, yet very little reward when they do get it right.

And while I genuinely believe, perhaps naively, that most of us care much more about the result and brand of rugby than the colour of the people producing it, the three groups that do care - politicians looking to score cheap points, white players feeling hard done by in their own country, black players feeling like window dressing - do attract a fair amount of media spotlight when they do speak out on the topic.

So … Plenty pressure to make it happen. Plenty finger pointing when you fail. Very little reward when you succeed.

One can perhaps liken it to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Wanting to understand what motivates people, Maslow believed people are motivated to achieve certain needs, and that once fulfilled, they move on to try fulfil the next one. His hierarchy of needs, depicted as five levels of a pyramid, are divided into four basic needs (physiological, safety, love, and esteem) and one growth need (self-actualisation).

Physiological needs like hunger and thirst, and safety needs like a roof over one’s head, motivate people when they are unmet, with the need to fulfil them becoming stronger the longer they are denied. The theory being that we need to satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs, with the top level being the grandiose “self-actualisation”.

The caveat, though, is that once a need is met, it no longer motivates. So while hungry, you will do anything for food, but once you have a steady supply of food, your motivation is to then look to fulfil a need like safety, which is one level up on the pyramid.

Is transformation a basic or growth need, though? Quite clearly Coetzee would like us to see it as part of his team’s self-actualisation, and thus due further praise. And given the political pressure brought to bear on our coaches, perhaps that is fair.

I am not so sure, though. Instead of looking for reward at achieving what I see as a basic need in South Africa, Coetzee should now be motivated by a need that is one level up, like scoring 4 tries at home against the Rebels.

What is for sure, though, is that it is a discussion unique to South Africa, and one that is a distraction hindering our progress in the rugby world.

Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt.

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.

Read more on:    stormers  |  super 15  |  tank lanning  |  cape town  |  rugby

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