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All Black rout a consequence of poor long-term planning

With the much-publicized SA Rugby National Coaching Indaba set to take place between October 19 and 21, never has there been a more urgent need for brain-storming among the game's top thinkers, mentors and administrators in the country, writes Trevor Cramer 

Allister Coetzee
Photo: Trevor Cramer

Even Springbok coach Allister Coetzee, who cut a broken figure seemimgly lost for answers, conceded as much when attempting to explain away Saturday's humiliating 57-15 thrashing by the All Blacks at Kings Park in Durban.

To his credit though, Coetzee didn't grapple to find excuses for what he labelled 'an embarrassment'.

My theory is that the root of the problem goes back quite a way already and isn't something that developed overnight.

The SA Rugby administration constantly got caught up in a web of politically-motivated decisions which led to being devoid of any kind of long term succession plan for the Boks at both playing and management level.

That may have forced SA Rugby into a sequence of rash decisions post World Cup 2015 as there was no apparant long term succession debate on the table at all.

Aside from the additiion of scrum doctor Matthew Proudfoot perhaps, Coetzee has consistently claimed that he had little or no say in the appointment of his Springbok management team and the engagement process had fallen predominantly in SA Rugby's lap.

Between Chean Roux (defence) and Mzwandile Stick (backline), their coaching pedigree at international level is limited.

Roux previously assisted the Boks as part of the Mobi Unit on refereeing and technical aspects and stepped into a void following the departure of Jacques Nienaber to Irish club Munster.

Stick is a former Springbok Sevens player and also flirted with the 15-man code and guided the Eastern Province U-19 side to provincial age group honours, also coached at U-21 level and was assistant to Deon Davids at the Southern Kings.

Granted, both have a proven track record at club, university and in Stick's case, provincial level, but the step-up to international level is a huge one to make.

But experience is gained over a number of years working within a structure. All Black coach Steve Hansen served as an assistant coach (forwards) under former All Blacks head coach Graham Henry and took over the role in December 2011.

In all honesty, as Hansen pointed out, New Zealand are one of the only sides who had really coped with the post-World Cup transition in comparison to other sides. 

He made reference to how their system makes it easier to keep building despite losing players the calibre of Dan Carter and Richie McCaw, to name but just two.

But herein lies the rub: "I think the big thing that we've got going for us at home is that we've got quality people; quality administrators from Steve Tew (NZ Rugby CEO) down the board," said Hansen.

"They're making good decisions and the franchises are driven well and those coaches are striving to be better all the time themselves," he added.

Hansen said the 'golden goose' is central contracts in New Zealand.

"When you've got good administrators at the top who control the contracts then everyone has to work together, because you've only got one pay-master."

At home, we've got one agenda: we just want to make good rugby players. It doesn't matter what team you're coaching or what team you're in -- the idea is to win matches and make good rugby players and we benefit from that."

And one can ceratinly see that as the All Blacks are on their way to becoming the most successful sporting team ever and spoken about in the same breath as Barcelona 

And that is probably what it's all about in  a nutshell -- ONE AGENDA -- what is best for Springbok rugby.

Coetzee was spot-on when he admitted that both the players and the coaching team needed to 'take a long look at ourselves'. 

"It is only us who can turn it around," added Coetzee.

But in virtually the same breath -- and what probably amounts to to a plea for help -- Coetzee said he and his Bok coaching staff were not averse to fielding constructive input from other coaches, 

whether working within the current structures or not.

Guns should not be entirely pointed at the Springbok coaching staff right now. They are victims of poor planning, a lack of a succession plan and were effectively thrown to the wolves.

For this reason it is hoped the Indaba produces a lengthy list of constructive ideas regarding the way forward and doesn't just become another rugby talk shop.

Let's also hope that the modest Hansen's interpretation of what has made the All Blacks the unstoppable force they have become since 2012 could be seen at least as a potential model for the long term success of Springbok rugby.

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