“Why all the negativity around the Bok performance in Nelspruit?” asked a few educated pundits on Twitter, most of whom also find themselves in the “Coetzee deserves more time” and “Bok fans need to be patient” camps.
And they are indeed correct. There were plenty of positives to come out of Saturday’s game. If Lionel Mapoe had held onto the ball over the line, Eben Etzebeth had looked for the pop from Bryan Habana instead of going for the clean, and Elton Janties had slotted his kicks, it may well have been a totally different game.
The Boks, though, still look between game plans, but that is at least an indication of an attempt at a new one, or adding a string to their bow. And of course both coach Allister Coetzee and the team deserve patience from media and fans alike as they implement a new game.
Hell, I even said I would take a loss or two in return for a more varied approach.
So why the general negativity and lack of patience?
Unluckily for Coetzee, I think SA rugby fans are just a smidgen 'gatvol' - to use an apt Afrikaans term. There is a general frustration caused by a number of things:
The Super Rugby format has damaged the sport massively and irritated fans even more so;
Players, and now coaches like Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber, leaving the country en masse;
The car crash in slow motion that is the Kings and EP;
Hence the truly embarrassing start to the Currie Cup, a tournament that seems to be crumbling right in front of us;
Meddling in selection. Even ignoring the reasons for it, the mere fact that there IS meddling in the selection process, meaning that it is not based purely on merit, affects not only players (of all races), but also the fans;
The fact that not even the coach can talk openly and honestly about said meddling, let alone the media;
The resignation of SARU president Oregan Hoskins and the reasons for it;
SARU being forced into signing interim Bok sponsors given that no brand is prepared to commit long term;
The investigation into SARU CEO Jurie Roux;
Throw in a general lack of faith in a governing party facing its own demons, hence the recent election results, and I sense a general unease that is also not helping rugby’s cause.
Hence the dwindling TV and live audience numbers. It feels a bit like finding out that your life-long sporting hero was on performance enhancing drugs when achieving the feats that made him or her your hero. The sport feels a bit tainted.
I was at an inspiring talk by Dr Mamphela Ramphele earlier in the week. She remains massively positive about South Africa, but believes we need a proper re-imagination. One that sees the entire country buying into a collective good that sees those previously advantaged having empathy for those that were disadvantaged. Perhaps even via a solidarity tax of sorts like the one put in place in Germany when the wall came down.
But for that to happen, we would need strong, open, honest leadership that we all believe in.
For Coetzee to get the deserved positivity and patience, he too requires the backing of a strong, open, honest leadership that we all believe in.
SARU has an acting president overseeing a general council that makes decisions based on votes from every single union president, big or small, because of an archaic constitution.
Tank Lanning is a former Western Province prop and vociferous tweeter from @frontrowgrunt.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.