Lloyd Burnard

Hold off on Bok blueprint for now

2016-11-03 12:55
Lloyd Burnard

Cape Town - Listening to new Sharks coach Robert du Preez address the media this week, the issues surrounding the implementation of a South African coaching blueprint became abundantly clear. 

Getting the Super Rugby coaches all on the same page was always going to be the biggest challenge. 

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee wants all Super Rugby franchises to operate within a coaching framework that will ultimately benefit the national side. Call it the 'South African way' if you will. 

It is a noble idea based on a system currently in operation in New Zealand that clearly works, though the centralised contracting system in those parts makes the standardisation of coaching and acceptance of a common philosophy far more attainable. 

Still, Coetzee is adamant that the Super Rugby coaches all need to buy into this new idea. 

A successful Springbok side translates into South African rugby being in a healthy state, which is better for everyone involved in the game, including the Super Rugby sides. 

That may be true, but the Super Rugby coaches are fighting for their lives. They have their own directives and mandates that have nothing to do with SA Rugby.

At the Sharks, Du Preez has been given the opportunity of a lifetime after the sudden resignation of Gary Gold.

In Cape Town, Robbie Fleck is a young coach desperate to prove his worth and the same can be said for Nollis Marais at the Bulls.

Southern Kings coach Deon Davids is in the same boat, while Cheetahs boss Franco Smith only has two Super Rugby campaigns under his belt.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann is SA's most experienced coach having taken over at the Johannesburg club in 2013.

A two-day coaching Indaba took place in Cape Town last month that provided the first steps in achieving Coetzee's desired blueprint.

Coetzee confirmed that a follow-up meeting would take place in December including all six Super Rugby coaches. This would encourage the franchises to begin the implementation of what had been started at the Indaba. 

However, by the time that meeting takes place, the Sharks will have completed the first seven weeks of their pre-season training. 

And that is the problem. 

While the Boks are on their northern hemisphere tour trying to recover from what has been a woeful year so far, the Super Rugby sides are going about their business under the guidance of their respective coaches. 

If the Stormers, for example, have a shocking 2017 Super Rugby campaign it will be Fleck facing the chop, not Coetzee. 

The coach of the franchise must deliver results for his employers, and those employers are not the powers that be at SA Rugby. 

It is obvious that the Sharks are prepared. 

They have a clear plan in terms of playing style and conditioning, and they are moving full steam ahead so that when the new Super Rugby season kicks off they hit the ground running. 

The Sharks, or any other Super Rugby franchise, cannot be expected to alter their plans after another meeting with Coetzee that would take place weeks before the start of the new season. 

It would only be fair to allow the franchises to finish what they have started. 

So, perhaps the coaching blueprint should be implemented at franchise level from the end of the 2017 season. 

That way, this year could be spent trying to better understand how that implementation would be facilitated. 

And, perhaps more importantly, it would give Coetzee and Bok management time to figure out what style of rugby they are trying to play. 

Because until the Boks know exactly what it is they are trying to achieve, convincing others to buy into their methods seems a rather pointless exercise. 

Lloyd Burnard is a journalist at Sport24 and the former Sports Editor of The Witness newspaper ...

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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