SA must consider sabbaticals

2012-09-27 11:46

Johannesburg - Western Province coach Allister Coetzee believes that Richie McCaw is doing the right thing in taking a six month sabbatical from rugby next year – and reckons that South African franchises might be well advised to consider doing something similar with key players.

According to website, it was announced earlier this week that All Black captain McCaw will sit out Super Rugby next year in order to preserve his body and prolong his career after several seasons of non-stop battery. It is understood that another key All Black, Dan Carter, has a similar provision written into his contract, with both players eager to combat the harsh physical toll of playing non-stop rugby almost all year round.

Coetzee agrees that the double round of Super Rugby derbies has made the year even tougher and more arduous, and agreed that a window is needed in the season where players can properly recuperate and recover from the physical demands of the game as well as condition themselves properly for future engagements.

And yes, it does appear that to some extent Coetzee may be prepared to put his money where his mouth is, for he admitted that he is having “to think very hard” about possibly giving players a window of rest at the start of the next Super Rugby season.

“No South African player that I am aware of has had a sabbatical written into their contracts like I understand McCaw and Dan Carter have, but it actually makes a lot of common sense,” said Coetzee after a press conference at Newlands where he had to announce the injury enforced lay-offs of two further players, Gio Aplon and Gary van Aswegen.

“I think next year is when we are going to see it (the effect of the schedule).I have always said that. We already have a lot of players out, we have seen with Australia how many players they have lost this season, but next season I think it is going to start hitting everyone unless something is done to combat it.”

Coetzee said that ideally an entire squad should be presented with a window to rest, and he did not think the suggestion that a team that gets relegated from the senior level of the Currie Cup might gain from it was so left field.

“That would mean the players who are at Super Rugby level can have a couple of much needed months off and it would certainly be of benefit,” he agreed.

But with the bosses demanding constant success in all competitions, Coetzee believes that treating the problem on an individual basis is the solution.

“Injuries in South Africa will be compounded next year. We still have an end of year tour to come and we will be battling to keep our top players fit and healthy if we as franchises don’t look at what McCaw is doing to save his career,” said Coetzee.

“I am going to assess our Springboks when they come back from the end of year tour and look at them each individually. Maybe I will look at a window to rest some of them as well. We’ve just got to make sure that we’ve got the reserves and cover for Super Rugby next year, to start the first couple of games in our campaign.”

Springbok skipper Jean de Villiers, who has been involved non-stop in Super Rugby and now international rugby through a long 2012, may be a leading candidate for a rest. It is unlikely that Coetzee will give him six months off, but he could find himself missing the first two or three games of Super Rugby, and the Stormers might be forced to use those games for match conditioning so that the players can be given a more complete break from rugby during the summer.

“We have an important meeting coming up where we are going to have to decide how we organise the off-season to ensure that the players come back next year refreshed,” said the coach.

The problem for Coetzee is that any plans to hit next season with anything less than maximum intensity first up are complicated by the fixture list.

The Sharks paid for their slow start, when they lost two away derby matches, this year, and the Stormers have exactly the same schedule next year – they start against the Bulls at Loftus and then play the Sharks in Durban. Their next game after that sees them pitted against the Super Rugby champions, the Chiefs.

“It is a difficult one,” he agreed, “there is no-one who will disagree with you that this competition is extremely tough.”

The good news for the Stormers though is that apparently Schalk Burger, who has been out of rugby all season with a knee injury, is making good progress and can be expected to start the next season feeling refreshed and hungry after his frustrating spell on the sidelines. Nizaam Carr is also expected back at the start of 2013, as is the currently injured Siya Kolisi, while Nick Koster has already returned to training.

“I just want Nick to maybe get a bit of game time in club rugby this week and also to get in some more time on the training paddock before we consider him for selection,” said Coetzee.

And then came a hint that there may be reinforcements from outside that will further boost the Stormers’ depth for 2013.

“I have a few players signing on the dotted line and will be informing you of those shortly,” he smiled.


  • cape.maori - 2012-09-27 11:51

    I think Coetzee must take a sabbatical - might help him winning a trophy!

      nissen.eugene - 2012-09-27 12:18

      I agree mayb we will get more black players 4rm the cape in wp teams it looks very lily white @ the moment after how many years of rugby unity rob wagner has done a gud job in keeping black players out ac is the house nigger doing his dirty work

      Shaun Elsdon - 2012-09-27 12:23

      All Black is beautiful.

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-09-27 12:30

      Nissen, are you blind, or just plain crazy? WP/Stormers probably have more players "of colour" (how I hate that description!!!) than any other province or franchise, and guess what? All of them on merit, not a single player is there because of quotas or window dressing. Now take your racist tendencies and go play in the bus lane.

      dowwe.duane - 2012-09-27 15:31

      @stirrer Hello our retired internet billionaire on the blog... bwa ha ha ha Doctor is confused, why can't a billionaire afford a R 5000 laptop and R249/month Vodacom stokkie?

      Flemstone - 2012-09-27 18:21

      I cant think of single key player in the Springbok team. Everyone single one of them can easily be replaced. Coetzee is annoying me too. This Cape Converter is a bit like a little bird chirping for food.

  • dave.roberts.182940 - 2012-09-27 11:59

    NZ always lead the way in rugby, always have. Sabbaticals will become the norm but it will just take the rest of the world a while to catch up with NZ.

      francopeyper.vantollen - 2012-09-27 12:54

      When NZ wins a world cup away from home then come speak to us about them leading the way

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-09-27 13:12

      Franco, I'll even settle for a NZ home win if they do it without "assistance".

      dowwe.duane - 2012-09-27 15:31

      @stirrer Hello our retired internet billionaire on the blog... bwa ha ha ha Doctor is confused, why can't a billionaire afford a R 5000 laptop and R249/month Vodacom stokkie?

      Jimmy NZ - 2012-09-27 18:27

      Must suck being so bitter...

  • jaco.groenewald.731 - 2012-09-27 12:12

    I agree with AC, well thats a first!!!!!!!!!

  • damienbradshawphotography - 2012-09-27 12:19

    I think a global season might be the answer ! North and South will be on the same page, one can have a 10 and a half month playing year with a month and a bit long term recovery ! Club and provincial competition structures would need to be revised !

  • dowwe.duane - 2012-09-27 15:28

    WP has been on a 11yr sabbatical so far. Shouldn't they be fresh by now?

  • dowwe.duane - 2012-09-27 16:52

    @stirrer.stirrer Wa is jy oubaas se honne? Jy het 20min internet oor jong dan moet jy huis toe om jou "loving" familie te gaan face. Ek wonder hoe lank hulle nog happy gaan wees sonder enige internet. Dis darem die 21e eeu nou.

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