The South African rugby coaching ecosystem has always been a bit fractured and self-serving
As part of his role as Director of Rugby for the South African Rugby Union, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has offered the services of himself and his coaching staff to the local franchises ahead of Super Rugby and through the PRO14.
It is a vital time for the Bok coaching staff to become more vested and involved with the franchises as the World Cup is now only a few short Test matches away, kicking off in September 2019. However, Erasmus has been at pains to state that this is not some attempt to build a national blueprint as to how all South African franchises should play.
He said the national coaches would in no way be dictating style or tactics or trying to impose a national blueprint on teams.
“We will assist in generic areas such as skills and conditioning, mauling, scrumming and line-outs,” said Erasmus.
“It will also give the national coaches a chance to discuss individual players with the franchise coaches and work on specific areas for specific individuals.
“But it is not our role to have input on selection or game plan; that can only be determined by the franchise head coach.
“But we do believe this approach can work for South African rugby in its broadest sense at the start of a very important Rugby World Cup year.”
This is a smart move from Saru’s Director of Rugby as a blueprint is not something that can be thrown together in a matter of months, as former coach Allister Coetzee discovered when he tried something similar at the end of 2016 and into 2017 with his coaching indabas.
But what this does offer the Boks, as well as the franchises, is a more cohesive understanding of what the players are capable of, and where they stand in terms of national selection for when the squad is named to travel to Japan.
Having Bok coaching staff present across the country, but not meddling in or slowing down the natural progression of the franchises, will allow for a much clearer and fuller understanding of the entire professional rugby fraternity that could be making a push for the World Cup.
It will also give players who might be on the fringes a chance to impress more than just for the 80 minutes they get on Saturdays.
The South African rugby coaching ecosystem has always been a bit fractured and self-serving. Many will see this as a negative, but Erasmus is seemingly trying to embrace this individualistic stance from the franchises and trying to understand it and use it to his advantage by immersing his men into it during the lead-up to this all-important tournament.
If Erasmus and his staff can get a clear understanding of what makes all the different players tick at regional level, and are able to work that into their national set-up, they may well have a secret weapon when the squad arrives in Japan.