Rudderless and in need of change

South African rugby’s decision-makers have plenty to answer for. What follows is just one damning example of the lack of leadership.

Nick Mallett is making Italy competitive, Jake White is running between Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg as a marketing director and Heyneke Meyer’s only link with rugby this year will be watching his sons play.

Something has to be seriously amiss when you combine that intellectual capital and ask why it is not contributing towards the well-being of South African rugby.

Mallett coached the Springboks to 16 successive test wins at a time when Meyer was his forwards coach and White was the technical advisor. That was a decade ago. In the interim, White has gone onto win the World Cup with the Boks and Meyer is the first South African coach to win a Super 14 title.

These guys should be the leaders in our game. They should be sitting at the head table, with their only agenda the well-being of the South African game. The next generation of coaches, be it at Super 14 or Currie Cup level, should be benefiting from what these guys have to offer.

Each of them is a proven winner. And none of them is involved.


There simply isn’t a justifiable answer.

Each of them has been alienated, isolated or chased away. It is a disgrace.

Winning World Cups in 1995 and 2007 has taught our administrators nothing. There is still no value attached to rugby knowledge in this country.

The rugby aspect is secondary and the resistance to introducing rugby intelligence, by way of those who have succeeded, remains an enigma.

It makes no business sense, for example, to have allowed White and Meyer to walk away from the game. The shrugging of the shoulders from administrators is a cop out. There has to be accountability for the lack of planning when it comes to these individuals.

White, as an example, is a R20 million investment over the last decade. Meyer would be a good R10 million investment, yet no one blinked when both these guys, in the prime of their career, opted out of South African rugby.

You can look for reasons and, if you are a rugby administrator in this country, you can attempt to justify their departure. However, all that adds up is that between World Cup wins South African rugby has never invested in intellectual capital.

The game’s administration can’t put a value to intellectual capital and they can’t put a plan to it either.

Individuals, at various times, have spoken passionately of the need for South African rugby to be a leader. But the words have never been translated into substance.

And that’s a problem.

For the last decade South African rugby’s administrators have battled for power and waged internal wars. Presidents have changed, structures have changed and the marketing team seems to change every two years.

But what hasn’t materialised is a strong national rugby structure in which the prized assets are our very own coaches.

There has been resistance to a national rugby director. There has been a disregard for the technical value of these guys and there has been no investment in securing the rugby talents of these guys.

Private business snaps them up. European clubs and other countries benefit from their experience, but the same old faces within the South African Rugby Union are there to bore us with details of strategic planning sessions.

It is crazy.

This weekend brings new laws to the Super 14, new players and renewed hope.

But it is what’s not there in our South African game that should make more headlines.

Where is our rugby brains trust? Where is the support structure intellectually for a young national coach and five very young regional coaches?

Where indeed?