It’s time for the KZNRU to stop messing around and put a definite plan in place to ensure they at least win SOME silverware this year.
The Vodacom Cup kicks off this weekend and it’s a crying shame that, with all the depth available to the Union, they have not even managed to bring home this oft-underrated trophy. That needs to change this year. The Wildebeest have a new coaching team and a string of useful players available to them and they need to win the damn thing, now, finish and klaar.
The problem over the last two years has been that the Wildebeest team has been considered nothing more than a stepping stone to Sharks selection; a platform on which to show off players’ individual skills and match sharpness to prove their readiness for the bigger stage of Super Rugby. It’s bloody difficult to mould a winning culture if you have a team of individual egos all determined to shine.
That aspect is not going to change, I fear. Continuity in selection is one thing that the Beeste are unfortunately going to have to do without as injuries (and loss of form) in the Sharks squad will cause a lot of player turnover. Those who find themselves a permanent fixture in the team will no doubt suffer from a lack of motivation as their Super 14 dreams continue to elude them, much more so those who will view a Wildebeest cap as nothing more than a bit of easy match practice.
So, the answer here is money. That’s right, the good old pursuit of filthy lucre. How it works is this: the union puts a sizable bounty on the Vodacom Cup trophy. Let’s say it’s a reasonable chunk of cash, like R5 Million. Now, divvie that cash up pro rata, over 10 games (or whatever) and 22 matchday squad positions and you get a figure of something like 20 grand per player per match. So, each player that makes the 22 will get that cash in his pocket for each of the games in which he has played.
The only proviso is that it’s an all-or-nothing thing. Wildebeest win the trophy and everybody gets paid. No trophy and all the money goes elsewhere.
Sound like an interesting way to get everybody’s minds focused on the job? Let’s look at the Wildebeest stalwarts, guys like Andries Strauss, Alistair Hargreaves, Robbie Harris and Skipper Badenhorst, who are unlikely to feature regularly in the Sharks team. Each of these guys stand to make a decent amount, as they will have accumulated a lot of caps over the course of the season. They will take ownership of the deliverable and provide leadership to the team.
As for the “stars” that wander in and out, they now have a real incentive to play well, but put the needs of the team ahead of their own individual performances. It doesn’t really help to feature in a losing performance, because if the trophy doesn’t come home at the end of the competition, nobody gets anything.
Seem like something that could work? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.Tweet