One of the worst kept secrets in rugby was confirmed on Sunday when Rassie Erasmus was appointed by SARU to fill the vacant position of General Manager: High Performance Teams. He will also be seconded to the Springboks when they are in camp as a technical advisor.
He will work with all the national teams and not just the Boks …. “With our aim being to produce winning teams, Rassie’s main task will be to establish structures to do this. He will be tasked to create a blueprint for South African rugby that can be implemented from junior to senior level, for our mens’, women’s and sevens’ teams,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.
I am told by the people that have worked with Rassie that he is one of the most astute rugby brains on this earth, able to see things that others simply do not see, so I can only see positives from this move. He does hate the public and political side of things though, so best SARU structure his role as fairly insular and away from the prying eyes of the media …
Of great relief was the non-announcement of Victor Matfield as the Springbok captain, but I would not choke on my post toasties were that to be the reason for the next Sunday press conference. I am told that coach Heyneke Meyer wants Fourie du Preez back from Japan to be his Bok skipper, and failing that, he is keen for the ex Bok lock legend to strip off his SuperSport suite and ease back into the Green and Gold to don the skipper’s armband!
Judging from the comments on Twitter it would seem that people would not miss the mostly stating the obvious SuperSport stuff (at the cost of around a million bucks to the broadcaster), but that this move would be seen as a massive step backwards. And I would agree … It being a move not dis-similar to those of Peter de Villiers when he first got into office!
Experience is a key part of team success (as Jake White likes to point out to all who care to listen), but South African coaches seem to obsess with it. Often at the expense of the amazing young talent we seem to uncover on a regular basis … Why obsess with Du Preez when we have Hougaard, McLeod, Vermaak and Duwenhage? Why beg Matfield to reverse a perfectly timed retirement when we have Bekker, Etzebeth, Kruger and Van der Merwe?
And this obsession with the captaincy? … To my mind it is always about picking the 22 and then choosing one of the fine young men (many of them natural leaders) to run onto the field first. Sure that is a slight simplification as John Smit was a magnificent captain who brought a lot more than his game to the Bok party. But the obsession with the captaincy was a major reason for De Villiers’ demise, as Smit was quite obviously not the best player in his position in 2011, yet Divvy had to honour his promise that he made to his skipper four years earlier …
I was hoping to see Meyer break away from the mould, embrace the amazing young talent we have in SA, and play a slightly more expansive and modern game that requires skill and the ability to off-load in the tackle. The likes of Hougaard, Lambie, De Jongh, Sadie, Whitehead, Basson, Aplon, Mvovo and Pietersen were built for this! Throw in the odd wise head like Steyn, De Villiers, JP Pietersen and Habana, and it’s a talent pool that most international coaches can only dream about …
But alas it seems Meyer wants to surround himself with what makes him comfortable, and a lot of that seems light blue, and more worryingly, light blue with a moth ball aroma!
A quick squiz at his proposed management team confirms that …
SARU have begun negotiations with the following Bulls mgmt staff:
Johann van Graan (forwards)
Ricardo Loubscher (backs)
John McFarland (defence)
Basil Carzis (conditioning)
Ian Schwartz (manager)
SARU would also like to secure the services of:
Niel du Plessis (conditioning)
Louis Koen (kicking)
Pieter de Villiers (scrum)
And the confirmed members of the Bok mgmt team:
Dr Craig Roberts (team doctor)
Vivian Verwant (physiotherapist)
Daliah Hurwitz (masseuse)
Charles Wessels (Operational Head)
Ann-Lee Murray (PR and Admin Manager)
JJ Fredericks (Logistics)
Albé Visser (Technical Analyst)
De Jongh Borchardt (Communications Manager)
“It’s no secret that the negotiations around the Springbok assistant coaches positions have taken longer than we had hoped, but we want to give Heyneke the team that he sees as the best for doing the job,” said Roux.
“I have worked closely with most of the people while others have come very highly regarded” said Meyer.
With Meyer and Erasmus, it would take the mgmt team to 18 people! 15 people play a game of rugby, 18 to manage it … Clive Woodward what have you started?
I do like Pieter de Villiers as the scrum coach though. When I was dropped from the WP U20 team for a game for disciplinary reasons (I might have been late for a bus to George to play SWD after having a few too many beers the night before – something coach Doc Poole took umbrage with), he was the man who took my place at tighthead. He played plenty games for France (where scrumming is considered an art), coached Villagers last year, knows his oats, is a good rugby man, and a good guy in general. He will be an asset to the Boks …
And in closing, the Rassie Erasmus rugby CV:
Born – 5 November 1972
Springbok Tests: 36 (Won 27, Lost 9, scored 7 tries). One Test as captain, v Australia in Brisbane (1999); Tri-Nations winner (1998), Rugby World Cup bronze medal (1999), member of record-setting Springbok team that won 17 consecutive Tests (played in all but two of these matches).
Springbok Debut: 5 July 1997 v British & Irish Lions in Johannesburg, Springboks won 35-16.
Provincial Career: Cheetahs (1994-1998, 2001-2004) – 117 matches; Lions (1999-2000) – 7 matches; Cats (1998-2001) – 46 matches; Stormers (2003) – 4 matches.
First-class Record: 214 matches, 58 tries, 2 conversions (294 points).
Coaching Positions: Cheetahs 2005-2007 (Currie Cup and Super Rugby); Western Province and Stormers (2007-2011); Springbok Technical Analyst (Rugby World Cup 2011).
Major Coaching Accolades: Currie Cup champions with Cheetahs (2005 and 2007, shared in 2006) and runners-up with WP (2010); Super Rugby runners-up (2010) and SA Conference winners (2011) with Stormers.