Putting rugby on track

2011-09-24 18:27

It’s fine to have a coaching clinic in a township in Port Elizabeth, bring out ten players and give everyone a hot dog, Coke and a T-shirt, leave and then you think you have transformed and developed the game.

That is how it was done in the past and definitely how it should not be done.

South African Rugby Union (SARU) CEO Jurie Roux, who has been in the hot seat for almost two years now, shares this view.
“You have achieved absolutely nothing other than giving the kids a good time for two hours.

“I also doubt that that would be enough to encourage an individual to play rugby for the rest of their life,” said the 39-year-old administrator at the Springbok team hotel in Taupo this week.

“That kid needs to be transformed in his mind in terms of the game and where he wants to go.”

Roux went on to say: “What you want to do is to make a sustainable difference. You want to appoint the necessary manpower, you need to develop the human capital and you need to get into the township schools, to teach the teachers.”

Previously, there was one person tasked with introducing rugby to the whole country, and Roux says that is not the way to go and regional development is what SARU is focusing on.

“We are very realistic with what they are supposed to do. If those officers can get to 20 schools in a year that has not played rugby previously and get those schools to play rugby then we are on the right track.

“And if the teachers have been educated and they come back the next year and the school is still playing rugby and the teachers are sustaining what they have been taught, then you are making a difference,” he says.

Roux believes to get the right personnel for the job is crucial.

“You can take the best Springbok and the best regional development officer in the world, but if he or she does not understand the environment and that culture, they will not be accepted and will not make an ounce of a difference,” he explained.

Roux says when he first took over the reins, one of his priorities was to restructure South African rugby.

That meant amalgamating the old South African Rugby Union and the commercial arm – the South African Rugby (Pty Ltd) – into a single structure. This is what is now known as SARU.

“We’ve completed the structural moves within the organisation. We have advertised and had interviews for new jobs. What is integral is that the new structure has a very big emphasis on the marketing and the commercial side of rugby.

“We needed to tell people what we were doing because everybody focuses on the Springboks.

“It was a very phased approach, according to the labour laws. People had to re-apply for their positions. A restructuring process is always very mentally tiring on any organisation. I am happy to say that we are done with that now.

“Our objective was always to streamline”.

Roux says the main emphasis is on the development of the game.

“We want to work closely with sports minister Fikile Mbalula and basic education minister Angie Motshekga because we believe that is the gateway to the schools and to developing the game in the different areas,” Roux concluded.

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