Loffie returns home to 'give back'

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 14:19

NEWS: Championship-winning coach Eugene Eloff will return to South Africa after just one year in America.

Eloff confirmed to rugby365 that he requested the Austin Huns to release him from his contract two years before it runs out.

Seven months after arriving in Austin, Eloff - a two-time world junior championship coach - won the American national club championship with the Huns.

He will still decide where and what he is going to do, but sees himself as a director of rugby in a mentoring role - helping young coaches and players in SA.

Eloff said he needs 'purpose' in his life and won't take a job just for the sake of having a job.

He added that the Huns are in a "good space" now and he doesn't see the need for a director of rugby yet.

"It [the salary] will be money that can be better spent on players," Eloff said.

"The structures and systems are in place [at the Huns] and their strategic planning has been done," he told rugby365.

"There is a great new league kicking off early 2018 called MLR [Major League Rugby]," Eloff said, adding: "I am excited for the team and believe they will be on top again

"The management is in place and will be announced shortly

"I will remain in touch with them and mentor Pedrie [Wannnenburg], as I am doing."

Eloff said that after 29 years of coaching, 10 years of amateur and 19 of professional level, he decided to end his coaching career on a high with the Huns team.

"My goal was to - after three years - that we [the Huns] reach the play-offs. Inside one year we won the American national club championship.

"I had a fantastic time in Austin and in the process also discovered the USA. The Huns' journey was definitely one of my highlights in my coaching career and I surely will miss the owners Richard Osborne and Chris Bugge, General Manager Thierrie Daupin, the management and the players - also all our South African supporters in Texas

"I feel it is a good time in my life to return to South Africa to give back to our own people

"I won't necessary be involved in coaching, but might be coaching the coaches or who knows what great new adventure lies ahead.

"I plan to be involved with schools and universities with mentoring players and coaches.

"One of the things that is high on my list is to create a platform for young players who want to study and play rugby in America."

FORMAL STATEMENT FROM EUGENE ELOFF:

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I have decided to quit coaching rugby at professional level and return to South Africa.

My goal and mission here at the Huns was to do the strategic planning, put structures in place, appoint a top management team, develop the team into a professional unit and win the USA championship by 2019. All these goals were achieved in one year being the 2017 National Champions. It was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my coaching career.

I was humbled to be on the list for the USA job and making an impact in USA rugby in such a short while. I feel that everything is in place for the coaching staff to take the game to the next level in the new MLR league and wish them all success.

I will miss Austin with its friendly people and especially all the Huns family. I want to thank the owners Richard Osborn & Chris Bugge for believing in me and giving me that opportunity, also Thierry Daupin for putting everything in place. Then a special thanks to a special friend Todd Clever for introducing me to the Huns.

Richard Osborn (Huns co-owner)

Austin Huns Elite would like to wish Eugene Eloff (Loffie) all the best in his future endeavours. From his first hire, Loffie coached the staff and players into a winning mind set; losing was never an option. His experience and leadership throughout the season helped developed the team into a champion. All the owners of Austin Huns Elite Rugby would like to thank coach Loffie, for a successful season, and our crowning at the highest level of rugby in the USA; a Division 1 National Championship.

Chris Bugge (Huns co-owner)

The Austin Huns Elite Rugby team are saying a fond farewell to Eugene Eloff, head coach and team manager of the club that he thrust into national highlight by leading their way to be the number one team in the USA Division One National Championship in June 2017.

Eugene Eloff, fondly known as Loffie, is returning to his home country, South Africa, to retire from professional coaching after a very successful career in rugby. He was an ambassador for his country, and added enormous value to USA rugby. He developed a unique way of coaching both experienced players and younger players into a mind-set of "losing is not an option".

Watching him coaching the Austin Elite team at their wonderful rugby facility at Nixon Lane in east Austin was an education. He was able to get the players to laugh and enjoy the game though working hard and with purpose. He worked these players into an incredible level of mental and physical fitness.

Loffie was very easy to talk to, and he always listened to other peoples' opinions. He was quite a musician also, and loved to play a guitar and singing folk songs and sea shanties, and was always a natural focus point at social events.

Thierry Daupin

Building a strong Rugby program with Eugene Eloff and accomplishing what most would consider impossible in such a short time has been an incredible experience. It has been a pleasure to work closely with the professional like Eugene. I wish him the best in his future.

Todd Clever

I am personally sadden of the news that Coach Loffie is leaving. He added so much value to rugby in America, and really set the bar high for the next generation coaches. I was very lucky to have him in my life as a coach, mentor and friend. Thank you for everything and looking forward to our paths crossing in the near future. You're a true legend!

SO WHERE TO FROM HERE

I am going back to South Africa and will take a breather to strategize and plan my next journey. I am definitely not lost for rugby. I believe rugby must progress and change as time evolves and so must coaches. Its time for the next generation of coaches to get opportunities.

We are losing great coaches because of a bottleneck so they lose interest and quit. There are a lot of great young coaches out there specially in SA. I have coached 29 years, 10 years as an amateur and 19 on professional level so I had a great innings. I believe I have lots of experience and knowledge that I want to take back to our young aspiring coaches and players. I also want to launch my English book.

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com