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Donovan Banks
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Lessons SA Rugby can learn from business success

02 October 2017, 15:22

The current Springbok setup has been yielding a mixed bag of results. There is a lot of talk about how fickle rugby fans are and this can be translated into business. It’s not just sports fans. If we are not satisfied with a business we will either stop spending money there, complain, or tell others not to spend money there either.

The source of our reactions to winning or losing lies in our consumerism. There are many questions that need to be answered for the Boks and I believe that the answers can be found in some business principles.


A great manager I used to work with would say that “Sh*t rolls downhill.” It all starts at the top from hiring the right people to identifying the right processes to make a business successful.

As far as leadership goes there are two types of leaders, a builder and a manager. A builder will be able to create a new team, processes and set up a business for success in a short time. The builder creates the blueprint for success. A manager will use a blue print and maintain the business.

You would hire a builder if you want organisational change or to set up a new operation. A builder would get frustrated maintaining someone else’s blueprint. A manager would battle to create a new team and processes and will likely resort to old ways or make the same mistakes and excuses.


Hiring new personnel, the builder will be able to train him/herself to the desired level quickly. They would identify the skill set and close whatever gaps are necessary. A manager is better off with an experienced, already trained team and bringing in new staff in small doses. This allows the experienced staff to help train the new team members, maintaining the level of service.


A builder will be able to create new processes from scratch. Not just one or two, the entire setup needs to be created with every possible permutation considered. A manager needs a foundation and can often improve on processes and add to them where needed.

It is possible for a manager to build a business but it will take longer and the financial and reputational damage the business will suffer along the way could break the whole concept.

Do the Springboks have the right kind of leadership for what needs to be achieved? Are we doing ourselves any favours by allowing our experienced personnel to get away? Do we have the right processes to blood new members that can adequately perform at the level that is required?

Whats on the menu

Any successful restaurant will introduce menu items slowly. You won’t suddenly find a steak house selling Sushi only. The sudden change will be difficult to manage and the staff and customers won’t know what to expect.

The basics will all be there, and special item is added and tested. If the customers respond, it stays on the menu. If one of the older items is not working it is removed, revamped or phased out.

The Springbok menu looks to be changing at the wrong pace. Perhaps our offering is too slow to phase out the old, and too quick to try new game plans. If the change is too sudden then we don’t give ourselves enough time to test out the new menu items before making them permanent fixtures.  


When my son was a baby my wife was about to feed him mashed butternut which he thought was mashed mango. On tasting it, he expected very sweet and got a taste that was quite different. Naturally, he immediately threw up.

Recently Eben Etzebeth said that the Springboks wanted to smash Australia off the park. Alistair Coetzee hinted that we were confident to beat New Zealand. In both instances, what was expected is not what was delivered.

Brendan Venter took to Twitter to say that this is a team in a building phase, yet his head coach seems to think we are built up more than a 57-0 score line suggests.  

Fortunately SA Rugby is not a standard business model or it would have closed a number of times over. We are being told to expect wins and smashing, yet we see record losses and stale mates.  

Success in any sphere is not something that happens automatically and there are similarities in every example of a successful team or individual. Discipline, structure, measured efforts and talent all play a part. Thinking outside the box is what separates the average from the extraordinary.

It’s safe to say that we all want the Springboks to be much better than average. It’s time we learned from successes outside of rugby.  

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.


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