Springbok coaching Indaba: What to expect

2016-10-17 11:39
Allister Coetzee (Gallo)

Cape Town - It is a big week for South African rugby, and it has nothing to do with anything happening on the field. 

That is seldom a good sign. 

On Wednesday and Thursday in Cape Town, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee will meet with top officials and coaches from around the country as South African rugby looks to find its feet once more. 

Coetzee was unveiled as Bok coach in April of this year, just two months before his first Test against Ireland in Cape Town, and since then he has won four out of nine Test matches including defeats at home to Ireland and away against Argentina - both firsts for the Boks. 

If anyone was uncertain about the fragility of South African rugby, it was confirmed by a 57-15 loss to the All Blacks in Durban two weekends ago. 

Now, a coaching indaba penciled in for this week is the first step toward recovery.

Former Springbok centre and Sharks and Saracens coach Brendan Venter will head up a two-day conference that will seek to find short-term and long-term coaching solutions that will benefit South African rugby and, ultimately, the Boks. 

It was Coetzee himself who appointed Venter, and Sport24 understands that the Bok coach has personally been in contact with all former Springbok coaches in an attempt to get them to be a part of the indaba, in one way or another.

Jake White is in France, Peter de Villiers is in Namibia while Nick Mallett and Andre Markgraaff have declined invitations to be a part of the discussions. 

By Monday morning, former coaches Carel du Plessis and Ian McIntosh had confirmed their attendance. 

Representatives of all six Super Rugby franchises would also be attending. 

It doesn't help that there is a Currie Cup final this weekend, with Nollis Marais (Bulls) and Franco Smith (Cheetahs) preparing for that, but SA Rugby is still hopeful that both of those Super Rugby coaches will attend one day of the indaba. 

SA Rugby's acting president Mark Alexander will give the opening address. 

Alexander is set to be officially unveiled as the new president on October 27, and he will take up the position in the midst of massive public concern over the current state of the organisation. 

Criticism of SA Rugby has intensified this year due to both on-field and off-field issues. 

South African rugby continues to lose players overseas, empty stadiums are becoming the norm, political pressure on the sport has reached new heights, CEO Jurie Roux is still engaged in a legal battle with Stellenbosch University over the alleged misuse of funds, Oregan Hoskins stepped down as president in bizarre circumstances while - perhaps most importantly - the Boks are in trouble. 

But, despite all of these concerns, this week's indaba will be dealing solely with coaching elements and techniques and not with administrative and structural issues. 

It is obviously impossible to fix all of the problems facing South African rugby in two days, but if this at least gets everybody back on the same page, then that will be a start.

Coetzee spoke after the Durban massacre of the New Zealand structures and how everyone involved works together to ultimately strengthen the All Blacks. 

The central contracting system makes that possible in New Zealand, while in South Africa provinces and franchises view each other as rivals in every sense. 

That won't change any time soon, but everybody needs to understand that putting bums on seats in Currie Cup and Super Rugby matches is far more likely if South African rugby appears to be in a healthy state. 

And, South African rugby will only ever be in a healthy state if the Boks are winning. 

It is in everybody's best interests, and if every coach and administrator from every province and franchise buys into that this week, then the indaba will be a success.  

Sport24 can also confirm that former Bok coach Heyneke Meyer has been invited to the indaba, squashing reports last week that suggested he had not received an invitation. 

By Monday morning, Meyer was yet to respond to Coetzee.


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