Mind Games: Where is Roux when we need answers?

2013-09-30 10:00

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was probably too busy being nice at the launch of the “Springbok Experience” at the V&A Waterfront last week to notice an ominous warning sign.

He was surrounded by his team and 30 former national captains. It seemed an occasion bathed in a warm glow of camaraderie and magnanimity, with all parties involved in rugby, even those who used to be at opposite poles, buying into the history and power of the Springbok brand.

In the build-up to a test – the atmosphere always seems to be more tangible in Cape Town – there would have been plenty of back-slapping (doubtless some of it feigned). So it would have been easy for Meyer to miss the obvious omissions.

Where were his predecessors? No Peter de Villiers, the man trumpeted with such fanfare by the SA Rugby Union (Saru) as the Springboks’ first black coach.

No Jake White, whose team won the Rugby World Cup in 2007. No Rudolf Straeuli, a member of the 1995 winning team and still actively involved in rugby and no Nick Mallett, Carel du Plessis, Harry Viljoen or Andre Markgraaff, all of whom now live in the Cape.

That’s how it is with coaches. One day you’re the toast of the town and the next you’re off the party list.

It’s a tough old world and, as many have found before Meyer, there’s only one way to stay on top – your team has to keep winning.

I couldn’t be in the Cape for the grand opening of a museum that is purported to cost in the region of R40?million. The

SA Rugby Union denied this without divulging the actual figure.

But judging from the TV pictures, another who seemed to be absent was president Oregan Hoskins.

His MBA studies or International Rugby Board duties appear to have kept him away from yet another important local rugby function.

Mark Alexander was there. He’s the Jeff part of Saru’s top-management team, who are a bit like Mutt & Jeff (an old comic strip about two pretentious men).

Also much in evidence was the union’s chief executive, Jurie Roux, who has been so busy with rugby business he has been unable to accede to at least three requests by City Press for a “state of the game” interview.

My colleague Khanyiso Tshwaku and I think there is quite a bit to talk about, but Mr Roux has been unable to make himself available at a suitable time.

Some of the questions we were keen to explore – rather than relying on leaked stories, mostly emanating from Sydney – were:

»?What is the situation around Super Rugby? What’s on the table? What is the future of the Kings? Is South Africa getting a sixth side and, if so, when?

»?Injuries to players seem to have reached crisis proportions. Is it a concern? Are there plans in place to lighten the load on players?

»?What of the exodus of players to other countries? A large percentage of the current Springbok side are now based overseas.

How will Saru stop the mass departure and what of the rule that prevents foreign-based players being considered for the Springboks?

»?Is Saru satisfied with the current state of transformation in rugby?

»?There seems to be a drastic falling off of crowd participation. How is Saru planning to address that?

»?There is a constant complaint that South African players tend to be hard done by in terms of disciplinary action, (for instance, the Andries Strauss and Bismarck du Plessis incidents).

Does Saru object and how will they show their annoyance?

»?What is the state of Springbok rugby looking ahead to the Rugby World Cup in 2015?

»?What fixtures have been arranged for the next five years?

»?How sound is the financing of the game?

»?What is the cost of the Springbok Experience and, in light of the precarious financial situation in some provinces, can it be justified?

»?What are the big challenges facing Springbok rugby?

Is it not time that Saru talked with its public, rather than to them?

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