Home Opinion and Features ‘Stellenbosch mafia’ running SA rugby?

‘Stellenbosch mafia’ running SA rugby?


While we do not wish to be critical of Allister walking out, we believe he should have stood his ground

Rassie Erasmus Photo: @Springboks via Twitter

RASSIE Erasmus’s appointment as national rugby coach for the Springboks has been seen by some as a surprise, but we were acutely aware that this would eventually happen, judging by the process leading up to his appointment.

All the signs were there – from the resignation of one of his lieutenants at the Springboks to join him at Munster, to the abject treatment meted out to Allister Coetzee before his untimely resignation well before his contract expired, and to Duane Vermeulen’s sudden return from his overseas stint.

So this eventual appointment has had a prequel to what was eventually going to happen.

What we do find quite shocking is the way in which all of this was conducted.

While we do not wish to be critical of Allister walking out, we believe he should have stood his ground.

As somebody who hailed from our stable and who carried the hopes of a still divided society on his shoulders, he succumbed too meekly against the onslaught on his career by rugby’s officialdom and their cohorts in the media contingent.

We would have given him the necessary support had he been more forthcoming.

There are many across the social media platforms and in rugby circles who refer to the existence of a shadowy “Stellenbosch mafia” running South African rugby. This cannot be confirmed or refuted.

What is quite striking, however, is the fact some people who have been identified as being part of this group have a history of aligning and indulging in such practices.

We have some serious concerns over the appointment of Erasmus, some of which are glaringly obvious. But the most unbelievable issue of all revolves around the terms of Erasmus’s contract – six years and two World Cups. There must be bucket loads of confidence in his capabilities and credentials. All we see is a sparse performance record. For an organisation whose relationship with its coaches has always been fraught, this appointment by SARU for such a length of time, defies all logic.

Erasmus’s appointment rankles and raises serious concerns. Certainly, the claims by Coetzee and Pieter de Villiers of a lack of support and being set up for failure becomes more credible.

We can now see evidence to back up a string of hitherto unproven accusations – of covert operations, under-handed methods, secret talks and hush-hush plans.

These should not be part of the new democratic dispensation in South Africa, in which openness, transparency and even-handedness are enshrined in our way of doing things.

We wish to emphatically state to those in the higher echelons of rugby’s administration that rugby is not the domain or personal fiefdom of any one group. Attempts to run the game in such a way will never be allowed to succeed.

Rugby representatives need to be cognisant of their shelf life and should conduct the business of the game in such a way that the actions of all – right up to the highest office – can be open to scrutiny.

Sedick Crombie is the media secretary of the Saru Sacos Legends