Mallett's solution for coaching exodus

Wed, 01 Feb 2017 15:56

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Record-breaking former Springbok coach Nick Mallett chatted to Jan de Koning about the reasons for the player and coaching exodus from South Africa.

The spotlight has been firmly focussed on the vexed issue of whether foreign-based players should be selected for the Springboks.

However, the departure of numerous high-profile coaches to Europe, Japan and even America has become an added cause for concern.

Jake White (Montpellier in France), Rassie Erasmus (Munster, Ireland), Eugene Eloff (Austin Huns, America), Jacques Nienaber (Munster, Ireland), Brendan Venter (Italian national team), Gary Gold (England, Worcester Warriors), Jimmy Stonehouse (Brave Lupus, Japan), Frans Ludeke (Kubota Spears, Japan), Andre Tredoux (Red Hurricanes, Japan) and Dawie Theron (Red Hurricanes, Japan) have all headed abroad in recent years.

Mallet said that the exodus started with players and then the coaches were being contracted by foreign teams.

He admitted the exchange rate between those currencies - pounds, euros, dollars and yen - is a contributing factor.

However, there are other factors at play - issues that can be resolved.

"It is, after all, a job and coaches must look after their families," Mallett told rugby365, adding: "Most top-end coaching jobs only last about four years."

He felt moving abroad gives coaches "more experience" and when they come back to South Africa they will be better value for the country "if they are used properly".

"Somebody like Rassie [Erasmus] I rate highly as a coach," he said, adding: "Technically he is a wonderful coach.

"He was a brilliant, and intelligent player. His combination with Allister Coetzee [at the Stormers and Western Province] contributed a lot to Allister Coetzee's success.

"Now he [Erasmus] has gone to Munster and he is doing an outstanding job.

"Brendan Venter learnt his coaching trade at London Irish, then he did a wonderful job at Saracens.

"Now he is going to be involved on a consultancy basis with Italy."

Mallet said it is a "compliment" that these South African coaches are attracting offers from overseas.

"The free market is what determines your value, not just the local market," he told rugby365, adding" The free market has decided that Rassie Erasmus and Brendan Venter are very good coaches, as Jake White is at Montpellier as well.

"The most important thing to take out of this is, as long as we get these coaches back to contribute to South Africa Rugby in a way, then it is nothing to be upset about.

"What will be really sad is to lose their expertise forever."

He admitted money is not the only reason why coaches and players depart.

"If SA Rugby had approached Rassie and Brendan and said to them: 'We would like you to stay here and we will make sure we give you consultancy [positions] that will look after you and your family' it would have been different.

"New Zealand did that with Wayne Smith for the last 10 years. They don't want Wayne Smith to go anywhere. He has had lots of offers all over the world. They offered him a deal where he can help them with their attack, their defence and look after the future of New Zealand rugby.

"If South Africa did that with Rassie Erasmus and Brendan Venter then maybe they wouldn't have gone.

"We have to look at ourselves as well, from an administrative point of view. Not everyone can be a successful head coach - it is a very, very difficult job.

"They [successful head coaches] certainly don't fall out of trees.

"When you get someone who shows he has the potential, then you should not look a gift horse in the mouth."

The 60-year-old, who guided the Springboks to a record 17-match unbeaten streak in 1997 and 1998also took South Africa to the 1999 World Cup semifinals.

He left the post a year later after falling out with the South African Rugby Union.

By Jan de Koning