October 8, 2013 in Uncategorized
Western Province for once have too many fit players to pick from! Its been a while since the team from the Cape wasn’t on its fourth flyhalf or no8, or something of the sorts. So it was interesting to read about Allister Coetzee’s “predicament” about selection for the big clash with the Sharks. I write ‘big’ because it isn’t vital or crucial. Province has a home semi but a possible away final. This week’s game will only benefit towards a home final…but we need to win the semi first!
So what is new you ask? Why are you writing about this predicament? Well, its twofold: firstly, its based on Heyneke Meyer’s statement about NZRU being able to enforce rest breaks for the national contracted players. The second part is about the culture that develops in a team, especially a time winning tight games. Many that they probably should not have, if that culture did not exist.
The first issues we as amateur writer and many professional writers have been writing for years now, is that our national players are playing too much rugby. This is backed by scientist like Prof Tim Noakes. We comment a lot about what we can learn from the Abs and the way they play, but we could learn even more about the way they manage their players.
Now many say but this is their job. They have to work, just like you and me. To a point you are right but from a professional area in sport, you are wrong… why do I say this? With the professional area these players become assets on a balance sheet. It’s a very cold way to say it but it is true. Unions are run (mostly) by businessmen, not your favourite uncle who has been part of the club and played for the unions since he was 12, retired after his 1000th game, to begin coaching and after that made the right friends to get onto the board, where he eventually became president and later CEO. Or at least it should be. Look at SARU CEO Roux. I think he is a great example of the professional rugby CEO. He understands the investment and the return on that investment that is required to build the brand, the sport and every other fall off of the Springbok. I will write some other time about the Springbok as a brand and how vital it is to more than just rugby and white guys eating biltong and drinking beer on a Saturday.
So to get back to the investment made in the players: unions feel they also deserve their pound of flesh and SARU wants to protect their investment. This is where it gets complicated. It is to both Province and SARU’s advantage for the players to be managed correctly and have a longer playing career. If feel the incoming Boks should at most play off the bench bar Kolisi because of the little time he has played in the last eight weeks and Juan de Jong, for obvious reasons. The rest should play off the bench to give them time to recover and be fit and available to the year-end tour as well as next year’s Super Rugby competition.
My second point had to do with the culture in the team. Guys who play together week in and week out build a lot of trust between each other. They understand each other’s game, contribution, style and motivation. No matter what skill, size or talent contribution the incoming Boks make, they don’t contribute to the existing culture by just walking into the starting team.
The players on the field also need to be rewarded for what they have achieved without these super stars. I would like to see some sense from the coaching staff. Even if the Springboks want to play, they shouldn’t. Not in the starting line-up anyway.
The coach needs to look at what is best for the cohesion in the team, the contribution vs disruption to the team, the shelf-life of the player if he is loaded without enough rest, next year’s SR and will they guaranty the coach the Currie Cup, and if so, at what price?