Super Rugby

Div: Bulking up a big problem in SA

Peter de Villiers (Gallo Images)
Peter de Villiers (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers believes the majority South Africa’s rugby players are being conditioned the wrong way.

De Villiers, who coached the Springboks between 2008 and 2011, has been keeping an eye on this year’s Super Rugby competition and he believes too much emphasis is placed on “bulking up” and not enough on fitness.

Via a column for Kwese Sports, De Villiers used the Stormers as an example for other South African franchises to follow.

He believes the Cape side has showed marked improvement after a humiliating 60-21 quarter-final defeat to the Chiefs in 2016.

They turned the tables last weekend when they beat the Chiefs 34-26 at Newlands.

“It was great to see that they have taken those lessons to heart from the 2016 match, as they put in one of their best performances in a very long time,” De Villiers wrote.

De Villiers lauded the appointment of New Zealand skills coach Paul Feeney.

“You can clearly see their core skills, as well as their off-loading and in contact are a lot better this year. They also have a lot of youngsters who are fearless, and who are excelling because of the freedom they have been given on the pitch.

“To beat New Zealand teams you have to be physical and execute at speed. The Stormers did this well on the weekend, as their intensity on attack and defence never dropped, while their physicality at the breakdown was great.”

De Villiers also praised the Cape side’s fitness, after they matched the Chiefs for 80 minutes.

“Conditioning plays a major part in this, and I think we are going about our conditioning the wrong way in this country, and why our teams haven’t been able to compete with their New Zealand counterparts for more than 65 minutes during matches,” De Villiers continued.

“At this point we are more worried about getting our players heavier rather than fitter. I wonder… is our conditioning strategies specific for the modern game or is it still a general model?

“From the sidelines, it seems like our natural talent and potential are carrying us, while we don’t get close to unearthing our players’ true potential. Jan Serfontein is a great example of how his skill and ability have been disregarded to make him a big, physical player.

“I believe the myth that we have to bulk up and become almost twice our normal size is so overrated, because it has become shackles on our own feet and it’s holding us back.”

During his tenure as Springbok coach, De Villiers won five out of 11 Tests against the All Blacks - a better record than most Bok coaches in recent times.

Other notable achievements for De Villiers as Bok coach was a Tri-Nations win in 2009, as well as a series win over the British and Irish Lions that same year.

De Villiers was the director of rugby at the University of the Western Cape between 2012 and 2015, but has since struggled to find work in rugby.

Read De Villiers' full column on Kwese Sports