Side Entry: When braai conversations turn to one-on-ones

    2017-11-05 13:00

    Simnikiwe Xabanisa

    Johannesburg - A couple of months ago, Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi caused something of a stir by not only admitting that she’d hired nine relatives to work in her department, but also wondering out loud in Parliament what was wrong with doing so.

    It was a shrug of the shoulders that all but resulted in Muthambi’s mugshot making its way into the dictionary alongside the entry for the word ‘nepotism’.

    Yet when it was announced this week that Western Province’s Rob du Preez would join his father Robert and brothers Jean-Luc and Dan in Durban next season, there was hardly a shrug in rugby circles about the move, despite the Sharks starting to look like the Du Preez family business.

    Maybe it was because the move had been mooted for most of the season, but having Du Preez coach all three of his sons brings up the question of when appointing family members is nepotism and when it isn’t?

    The dictionary definition of the word is “the practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs”.

    In all fairness to the Du Preez clan, Robert Senior found twins Jean-Luc and Dan in the Sharks system by the time he took over as head coach, so Robert Junior is the first family signing he has made since going back to Durban.

    Flyhalf Rob was the top points scorer in the Currie Cup and overshadowed his opposite number Curwin Bosch in helping Province win last weekend’s final, while the twins are Springboks.

    But the strict definition of nepotism hardly factors in performance once the job has changed hands. Besides, the thing about professional sportsmen is that they need two things to thrive – ample opportunity and backing from the coach. If said coach happens to be your old man, there’s no shortage of faith. An example of this is how young Dan started the Super Rugby season injured with Tera Mtembu playing number eight for the Sharks. Once he was fully fit, he came on during half-time and hasn’t looked back.

    A more acute case of this backing has to be former Lions coach Johan Ackermann with his son Ruan. Not content with introducing him into the Lions Super Rugby squad when he was just 20, Johan took Ruan with him when he got his job with Gloucester in England.

    Talk about keeping a close eye on your laaitie’s development.

    But what is a father supposed to do? As a dad, you have one job – give your children every opportunity. If you’re a rugby coach and they happen to play rugby, surely directly overseeing their career is the easiest way to do it?

    But in South African rugby, it almost feels like having relatives in the system (the right ones, anyway) invariably means a guaranteed path to the big time.

    A most recent case in point is Divan Strydom, the son of former Bulls manager Wynie Strydom. Until New Zealander John Mitchell joined the Bulls, Divan was the Bulls’ technical analyst and kicking coach, and was moved to the junior teams’ kicking coach and handler of team public relations and administration.

    There’s a precedent in this regard for the Bulls in that former Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan was technical analyst at the franchise when his father, Barend, was chief executive. But should Van Graan Junior, having proven to be good at his job, mean a template for hiring the sons of the other fathers working for the union?

    The way rugby is going is that it is fast becoming the family business for a select, not to mention connected, few.

    That may not be an issue for some, but try telling Tera Mtembu and Curwin Bosch they get the same one-on-ones with the head coach as Rob and Dan do.

    Follow me on Twitter @Simxabanisa

    Read More On:  nepotism currie cup rugby

    Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    1 comment
    Add your comment
    Comment 0 characters remaining
    Live Video Streaming
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk
    Breaking News


    Friday, 26 April 2019
    • Crusaders v Lions, AMI Stadium 09:35
    • Sunwolves v Highlanders, Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium 12:00
    Saturday, 27 April 2019
    • Hurricanes v Chiefs, Westpac Stadium 09:35
    • Waratahs v Sharks, Allianz Stadium 11:45
    • Stormers v Bulls, Cape Town 15:05
    • Jaguares v Brumbies, Estadio Jose Amalfitani 23:40
    Friday, 03 May 2019
    • Crusaders v Sharks, AMI Stadium 09:35
    • Reds v Sunwolves, Suncorp Stadium 11:45


    20 April 2019
    19 April 2019
    13 April 2019
    12 April 2019
    06 April 2019
    05 April 2019
    30 March 2019
    29 March 2019
    24 March 2019
    23 March 2019
    22 March 2019
    16 March 2019
    15 March 2019
    09 March 2019
    08 March 2019
    02 March 2019
    01 March 2019
    23 February 2019
    22 February 2019
    16 February 2019
    15 February 2019


    Rank Team P W Pts
    • Bulls (Q)
    • Lions (wc)
    • Sharks (wc)
    • Jaguares
    • Stormers

    Opinion Poll

    Which of the 4 South African team will finish with the fewest Super Rugby SA Conference points?

    Can you name the top Super Rugby tryscorers of all-time?

    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.