KSA Shark ©

White-wash paints Loffie out of picture


Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :Currie Cup, In the news, Lions, Super 14 on 31 May 2009 at 07:26
Tagged with : , , ,

Possible player strikes, alleged racial incidents, the sacking of two coaches, poor attendances and even worse results — welcome to the whacky world of the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU).

The once-proud union has become a laughing stock of SA rugby and after years of mediocrity chief executive Manie Reyneke this week took a bold step to enforce change.

He employed former Springbok coach Jake White’s company to do an audit of the rugby structures at the union and make recommendations about how to turn the Lions into a competitive side again.

Craig Ray reports for the Sunday Times that White was at Ellis Park for less than 48 hours before deciding that the words “rugby” and “structure” didn’t belong in the same sentence in Doornfontein.

Super 14 coach Eugene Eloff was asked to present an explanation of why the team struggled in the Super 14 in the third year of his three- year plan, which delivered nothing.

He apparently arrived at the meeting under-prepared and instead of giving a detailed analysis of structural problems and underlying reasons for failure, asked the GLRU executive to give their thoughts on the Super 14.

“If the rest of the campaign was as well prepared as the washout meeting, it’s no wonder they came 12th,” White said.

Reyneke, who has backed Eloff for the past 18 months, knew that something drastic had to be done. “It became apparent to me that we had to make changes at the union — and not just at coaching level,” he said.

“Changes needed to be made immediately because the Currie Cup starts in less than six weeks and our first two games are against the Bulls and the Cheetahs.

“I informed Loffie on Wednesday morning that he would no longer be coaching the senior team. Loffie took it well, but asked to be allowed to coach the team against the British & Irish Lions this week. I said no, the change had to start immediately.”

That led to a stand-off with some senior players who remained loyal to Eloff, although according to team manager Mustafa Boomgard and Reyneke, a lot of players welcomed the change.

Reports of a player strike circulated, but were denied by all parties. Eloff told England’s Guardian newspaper: “When I heard about the possible strike I rang Cobus Grobbelaar (the Lions captain) and asked him not to go ahead with it. I said that no emotion should be put into my departure and that it was in the best interests of everybody that they went ahead with the game.”

Eloff is a pleasant man but his coaching tenure was a disaster and those players loyal to him must question their ambition. Are they happy in the Super 14 basement, or would they prefer a change of environment and new ideas?

Already there has been talk of players leaving over the Loffie affair, a situation that’s unavoidable and doesn’t overly concern the GLRU.

“I’ve been highly impressed with Jake and his knowledge of the game,” Reyneke said. “I believe with his help we’ll go a long way towards rectifying the situation at the union.

“The union was in financial dire straits over the last few years, but we’re back on track and making a profit. We can compete with the Bulls and I can afford to buy 40-42 top players. We can employ the best people, but what I don’t have is the luxury of time. We have to get it right within the next 12 months and we needed to start yesterday.”

White is not universally popular and he is renowned for his stubbornness and loyalty to players. But he is thorough and lives by the motto “fail to prepare and prepare to fail”.

“I want to be able to say to the Lions fitness coach, ‘what are you doing at 3pm on August 20?’ and he has to pull out his plan and show me the timetable,” White said.

“I’m not promising the Lions will win the Currie Cup and the Super 14, but Eddie Jones (White’s business partner) and I will assist in ensuring that structures and planning are in place to give them direction and attainable goals.”



13 Comments

  • Super 14 coach Eugene Eloff was asked to present an explanation of why the team struggled in the Super 14 in the third year of his three- year plan, which delivered nothing.

    He apparently arrived at the meeting under-prepared and instead of giving a detailed analysis of structural problems and underlying reasons for failure, asked the GLRU executive to give their thoughts on the Super 14.

    As management I’d be pretty pissed off by that as well. Almost shows a trend of being underprepared.

  • Comment 1, posted at 31.05.09 07:31:15 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
     
  • Already there has been talk of players leaving over the Loffie affair, a situation that’s unavoidable and doesn’t overly concern the GLRU.

    There has been talk of quite a number of players leaving long before Loffie was booted, so I don’t really think that them leaving can be attributed to Eloff leaving, unless of course that “number” is two or three. :wink:

  • Comment 2, posted at 31.05.09 07:33:08 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
     
  • i feel sorry for Eloff, in 2007 they made the CC final and in 08 the semi finals, so it wasnt all bad. Taking the S14 into account, why is Naka still the Cheetahs coach?

  • Comment 3, posted at 31.05.09 07:59:35 by JarsonX Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 2) : I agree Andre, Loffie is your typical happy go lucky character, who everybody laughs at and the players love because he always has a braai and can sing along on his guitar and they have fun with. However as good a coach as I think Loffie is, I also believe he did not have the right team in place, it was a thing of jobs for pals and the pals let him down as much as he let himself down. I am not sure where Reyneke is going to find these 45 odd players but I hope he spends the money wisely; he may need to pop over to NZ and go a raiding there, because all the good guys here are taken and signed up tight at either the Bulls or the Sharks. I suppose he could do worse than try and sign up a decent player from the N/H. My take would be to get as many really promising young players and build, the Sharks did it and the Bulls IMO have been the most successful at it they have so much young talent on their books its childish!!

  • Comment 4, posted at 31.05.09 08:13:08 by Whindy Reply
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  • The Lions will find the players in their own clubs, schools and universities – like they did before.

    Their biggest problem is talent-retention, not talent-production.

  • Comment 5, posted at 31.05.09 09:52:20 by Big Fish Reply
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    Big FishAssistant coach
     
  • Well then Im not suprised he was sacked..

    Thanks Loffie I always liked and backed you all the best for the future.

    Now I can only hope the union gets its act together.

    @Big Fish (Comment 5) :

    Spot on !

  • Comment 6, posted at 31.05.09 17:35:15 by CoffeeShopBok;-) Reply

    csbSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Big Fish (Comment 5) : I agree with you, but the only way to retain talent is to have a decent coach, which leads to success and if a team is successful, then you will have no reason to leave the team, but if you live with the constant promises of three year plans and not even a sniff off success, then like Jaco Pretorius, you will look to further your career elsewhere, even if it means taking a dip in salary, like he did. Springboks do not often come from teams that are not doing well, as they are not able to show their skills!!

  • Comment 7, posted at 01.06.09 06:49:26 by Whindy Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 2) :
    Well presumeably there are now a few more that are looking at leaving.

  • Comment 8, posted at 01.06.09 08:26:41 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Whindy (Comment 4) :
    On the jobs for pals issue, do you think it really holds waterand if so which guys from the VC team or club scene do you think should have been there and at the expense of who, considering that the VC team manageed 1 win in the whole competition, indicating that there isnt much depth there at present.

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.06.09 08:30:31 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 8) :

    All the names listed in the various articles that are potentially leaving the liions are the ones we already know about.

    Players leaving are not things that happen overnight, there is quite a bit of negotiating that precedes a player announcing his departure. Anyone who leaves before the CC has been negotiating to leave for some time already.

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.06.09 09:03:44 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
     
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 9) :

    I would rather look at it from the point of view of “which players should have been let go by the lions a while ago and which ones who have left should the Lions have tried harder to keep?”

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.06.09 09:06:31 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
     
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 10) :
    Agreed on that, but thats not to say that there arent now addittional guys that just want out. I presume Baywatch may just be one such player as he was obviously one of the planned boycotters.

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.06.09 09:25:09 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 11) :
    OK, that makes sense, but it is also something that every union can be taken to task about. But when you let someone like Jean Deysel go, because you never play him, then yes questions will be asked.

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.06.09 09:36:21 by Salmonoid Reply
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