Politics can’t dictate rugby in SA - Eloff

Eugene Eloff (Gallo Images)
Eugene Eloff (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former Lions coach Eugene ‘Loffie’ Eloff has called on South African rugby bosses to not allow political interference in the game.

Eloff, who also coached the South African under-19 team to world championship victories in 2003 and 2005, will soon head off to America to coach the Austin Huns Rugby Club.

Eloff spoke to Netwerk24 following the Springboks’ shock loss to Ireland at Newlands over the weekend.

It was Ireland's first ever win over South Africa on these shores and what made the feat even more remarkable was that they did so my playing the majority of the match with 14 men after CJ Stander was red carded in the 22nd minute.

Eloff felt new coach Allister Coetzee got his selections wrong.

“Before the first Test, Allister had to choose between players who he was familiar with and form players. He picked the players he trusted and the result of this risk was a loss. Some of them were clearly not conditioned for Test rugby.

“Had he picked players on form, you could have said that the defeat was growing pains at the start of a new era. But all is not lost. I believe there will be changes and improvements.”

Eloff’s new team, The Huns, are based in Austin, Texas and will from September compete in the new professional league established in the United States.

"I'm really excited by this new challenge, I really like to be at the beginning of a new adventure,” Eloff told the club’s official website.

“USA has the potential to become one of the most successful rugby nations, and having the opportunity to bring my knowledge here will be fantastic. I'm looking forward to working with the Huns Management, and all of the Austin Huns volunteer coaches to help them grow the club and sport."

Eloff though had a parting message for local rugby bosses.

“If you want to be competitive at Test level, you have to make decisions based on merit,” he told Netwerk24.

“If you allow political influences to dictate who you pick or appoint, you have to accept that you won’t be the best.

“I want to see strong leadership in South African rugby to stand up for what is right.”

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