Alexander: No 'quick fix' for Boks

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 07:21

REACTION: Jan de Koning reports from Newlands, after the conclusion of the two-day coaching indaba.

South African rugby is slowly picking itself up from the floor, after taking a series of body blows this year - including a number of unwanted records on the playing field.

There was a lot of positive talk after the conclusion of the event at Newlands on Thursday.

Mark Alexander, President-elect of the South African Rugby Union, believes new relationships have been built during the workshop.

And Alexander was the main conductor in a choir that, for once, was singing from the same hymn sheet.

However, the SARU boss warned that the Newlands gathering will not bring instant success on the playing field.

He pointed out that this was the start of finding solutions that will benefit the country in the long-run.

As Pieter Kruger, one of the two facilitators, along with Brendan Venter, said, one of the main areas where South African rugby has been lacking is sharing information and ideas.

"Getting coaches talking, especially in a Currie Cup Final week where they will be opposing each other, was significant," Kruger said at the conclusion of the event.

Alexander said the gathering had "mapped out" a new direction for South African rugby.

"The willingness of participants to share their knowledge was outstanding," the SARU boss added.

"We got the collaboration we asked for and we focussed on solutions [at the indaba].

"These have been two of the best days in my time as an administrator."

He said they addressed many rugby issues and it certainly won't be the last such gathering.

They are planning specialist conditioning meetings, attack strategies and defence meetings in the months to come.

"We will do this on a regular basis," Alexander said.

Kruger said it was important to have an action plan and come up with a strategy.

"That [strategy] will be drawn up in the next seven to 10 days by various people and redistributed to the franchises," he added.

Alexander was quick to warn that there is no short-term solutions to the issues faced by the Springboks and South African rugby in general.

"There are some short-term interventions, but this is a long-term strategy," the SARU boss said, adding that the 'short-term interventions' include adding Franco Smith (attack and backline play) and JP Ferreira (defence) to Allister Coetzee's coaching staff for the Springboks' year-end tour.

Coetzee told rugby365 that there won't be any further additions to his coaching staff in the near future.

Alexander made it clear that the success of the indaba will be measured in years to come.

"This strategy can only be delivered in collaboration with our members [coaches and CEOs of the various franchises]," he said.

"We need to have a common way on how we deliver rugby and that will take time."

He said the debate was rather 'vigorous', but good during the two-day event and 'valuable information' was shared.

"We now have direction [on how to go forward] in South African rugby.

"What we are putting in place is a methodology.

"The tactics of that methodology, how they [coaches] use it, will be different for every union."

The SARU boss spoke of putting building blocks in place and said it is NOT about the tactics for each coach and each match.

"It is about our structures on defence, our structures on attack, what are our strengths are and to maximise that, and to work on and improve our weaknesses.

"This is not a Springbok issue, it is a South African rugby issue.

"The willingness of the coaches to share their insights and the energy they brought to the discussions was outstanding.

"We asked for collaboration and we got it."

By Jan de Koning