There's life after White

2007-10-29 09:33

Gary Boshoff

After the RWC final one Springbok supporter boldly declared that celebrations will go on for weeks to come.

It's clear from the past week's happenings that South Africans took that declaration literally and as you read this column, victory celebrations have moved on to Cape Town with no clear end in sight.

However, I would not be surprised if after Saturday's climactic Currie Cup victory by the Cheetahs, celebrations will go on for another week in the Free State!

One of the popular topics in the media was the future of the present Springbok squad, but particularly that of Jake White.

I have to say that I was rather taken aback by the predictions by some rugby journalists of eminent doom and gloom if Jake White's contract to coach the Springboks is not extended.

In the same vain, references (reportedly made by White himself) that the present Springbok team will be the last one selected on "merit", reeks of racial prejudice and opportunism.

How long will we continue to be mesmerised by moments of glory (read: winning the RWC) while forgetting the real challenges that face us all or the unfulfilled promises of administrators and coaches alike? Can we afford to postpone the fundamental transformation of rugby for another four years?

Doomsday prophets

Saru has important decisions to make in the next few months, decisions that I believe will determine the delivery on many of the imperatives the organisation faces, including the critical imperatives of transformation and winning.

Contrary to popular belief these imperatives are not mutually exclusive as the doomsday prophets would like us to believe. Appointing a black coach and selecting more black players would not necessarily result in the disintegration of the Springboks.

Just looking at the performance of our young players during the Currie Cup, Under-19 and Under-21 finals I am more than confident about the future.

The talent on display was of the highest quality: Morgan Newman, Ricardo Croy, Cameron Peverett, Dabeon Draghoender, Conrad Hoffmann (all from WP), Rocco Jansen, Burton Francis and Mthunsi Mabeta (all from the Blue Bulls), are sure to make it to the top.

In the junior squads of the Lions, Cheetahs and Sharks there are still many thoroughbreds in the making.

Wide choice

At Under-19 level there were Matthew Turner, Coenie van Wyk, Lisle Clark, Francois Hougaard (all from WP), Gerhard Van der Merwe, Stefan Watermeyer, Thom Saebela, Berend Botha and Henri Banjes (Blue Bulls) that showcased the quality South African rugby.

At senior level a new coach will have a wide choice of top players to choose from.

South Africa therefore has the players to take on the world at any time.

While success on the rugby field comes as a result of quality coaching, good people management skills, a crop of talented, skilful and committed players and of course, subjective selection preferences, it is primarily the sustainability of the rugby structures that determine the continued success of all of these.

It is in this latter sphere where Saru's major challenge lies.

So let's not worry too much about the future of Jake White or whether overseas based players will be allowed to continue to play for the Springboks.

Our biggest concern should be whether Saru is capable of delivering the kind of structures and systems that would guarantee a sustainable future for South African rugby.

We have the players, and yes, many of them are black! We have the coaches, and yes again, many of them are black too!

South African rugby can transform now and continue to win, of that I am certain.

The question is, does the leadership of Saru believe this?

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

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