Specialists to boost SA game

A contracted team of specialist coaches in the ‘High Performance Mobi-Unit’ will visit Super Rugby franchises, national teams and schools in an attempt to better the game in South Africa.

The HP Mobi-Unit is the brainchild of Rassie Erasmus, who was appointed as Saru’s General Manager of High Performance in 2012.

‘We are very excited about this new initiative,’ said Jurie Roux, CEO of Saru. ‘Historically, Saru have taken a “hands off” approach to coaching interventions at the elite level. That was exclusively left to the provincial unions.

‘But times have changed and as the game has become more technical and more analytical, the resources required to keep up to date have exploded. Saru can pool the resources we have in our national coaching panels as well as offer access to the considerable rugby knowledge we have on our staff.’

Erasmus has contracted specialist consultants into the Mobi-Unit to cover key areas of play:

· Pieter de Villiers, the former France prop, will concentrate on scrumming
· Louis Koen, former Springbok flyhalf, will be responsible for the tactics and practice of kicking play
· Chean Roux, former Stormers loose forward and title-winning University of Stellenbosch coach, will be responsible for technical analysis
· Jacques Nienaber, the Stormers defensive coach, will advise on defensive play. Nienaber’s involvement will, however, only be outside of the Stormers’ Super Rugby commitments.
· Rassie Erasmus, former Springbok loose forward, and former Cheetahs mentor and Western Province senior professional coach, will concentrate on lineouts, game plan and performance analysis.

‘We have a massive amount of rugby expertise contracted to Saru through our national teams and in our offices, but it has been underutilised in the past,’ said Erasmus. ‘What we’re now offering is a back-up to coaches in the form of a pool of consultants in specialist areas who can share their considerable experience as well as pass on the latest thinking.

‘This is a three-year project, which we hope will broaden the base of rugby knowledge at the elite level by opening a two-way conversation. Critically, by establishing a common approach to play at the elite level, we hope it will ultimately assist the Springbok coach in getting maximum value out of the short time he has to prepare teams for Test matches.’

The HP Mobi-Unit was in action this week at the SA U20 training camp with Koen, De Villiers, Roux and Erasmus all working with players and the coach Dawie Theron’s management team. Other Springbok coaching and medical staff will be utilised on an ad hoc basis, Springbok commitments permitting.

Erasmus said that the unit’s technical analysis of matches throughout the competition would be pooled with franchises.

‘One of the criticisms of Saru in the past among franchise coaches was that they didn’t receive much technical rugby input from us,’ said Roux.

‘By establishing this unit we have created a vehicle for a knowledge transfer in two directions at once which will be for the benefit of all our teams and, most importantly, for the Springboks.’