Gary Boshoff

2007 a year to savour

2007-12-10 09:12

Gary Boshoff

The domestic rugby scene came to a final closure on Saturday when the South African Sevens team of my good friend Paul Treu, disappointingly bowed out in the semi's of the South African leg of the IRB Sevens circuit.

I feel for Treu because I know how passionate and dedicated he is to what he is doing and how desperately he wants to win the IRB title for his country, especially now, after the Springboks took the Rugby World Cup.

However, judging by the superiority of the All Blacks and their shear dominance of the first two legs of the circuit one has to accept that it is not going to happen this time around either.

Talent there is aplenty, but there is just no competing against the support and continuity that the New Zealanders brought to their Sevens team and the way they keep churning out new stars year after year after year!

Notwithstanding the disappointment of the weekend South Africans can look back with pride on perhaps the best rugby year of the last decade. Two South Africa teams in the Super 14 final in South Africa and the World Cup champions in the Springboks, speak for itself. Indeed an envious position to be in for any team or country.

Embodiment of sacrifice

The 2007 World Cup marked the retirement of Os du Randt after he made an almost miraculous recovery from a knee injury that, at one stage signalled the end of his career (almost six year ago).

The fairytale ending for Os could not have been better scripted by Hollywood's best. Os has been chiseled into the memories of every South African rugby supporter as the embodiment of sacrifice, loyalty and humility - his memory will live on forever just like that of many great South African sportsmen and women!

2007 also represents the end of the Jake White era, albeit a very successful period for South African rugby - for obvious reasons. In many ways Jake White conspired towards his own downfall despite winning the World Cup. With the benefit of hindsight it seems more and more as if the whole "controversy" around White's re-appointment was meticulously planned to boost interest in his book.

In recent statements by White himself it is also clear that he never had any intention of staying on in what he allegedly described as a "nest of vipers". Perhaps White's departure is the best thing that could have happened to Saru at this stage of the organisation's transformation.

Two major challenges await Saru in 2008: the appointment of White's replacement and of course, the pending Saru elections.

Horse trading

I believe that the appointment of the coach is in some way connected to the election of the new Saru president. As with the run-up to the Polokwane conference of the ANC there is also a lot of wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes at Saru.

I hope that the coach that eventually gets appointed is not appointed as a result of this horse trading process but is appointed because he is the best choice for South African rugby and South Africa at this point in time.

Securing enough votes to become president of Saru implies that serious candidates must find ways to secure the vote of the small unions as well as the "Afrikaans" provinces (Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Free State, Griquas, Northern Free State, Falcons, Pumas, and North-west) - this is the key to success.

Already the process of appointing the coach has been delayed by a month leaving the poor guy very little time to put together a support team, not to speak of developing a proper working relationship with the Super 14 coaches. This has always posed a huge challenge to the incoming national coach.

2008 therefore poses a significant challenge to the leadership of Saru - let's hope a semblance of good sense emerges out of the present mistrust and uneasiness that surrounds the organisation.

  • Gary Boshoff is a former Saru player and well-known rugby administrator.

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