I listened with interest to Peter de Villiers over the weekend following the announcement of Victor Matfield to captain the Springboks on how he has to live in the real world.
His comment was in reference to the question of burn-out, and how individuals like Prof. Tim Noakes has countless times warned the Springboks coaching staff that the players will not make it to the World Cup in New Zealand next year.
For an individual like myself who has asked and published the opinions of Dr. Ross Tucker countless times and personally subscribe to the scientific approach to rugby, I have to feel for De Villiers.
The perfect world is far from the real world at times, and as a coach, your successes in the sport are easily forgotten when you hit a slump, just ask any previous Bok coach!
It is not to say that De Villiers could have done things better, because he like most other professional coaches will tell you that in hindsight, they made some glaringly obvious mistakes, but unlike supporters, journalists, columnists and even scientists in the sports field like Prof. Noakes, their reality is far removed from ours most of the time.
So this leaves De Villiers and his fellow coaching staff with the real world, as they see it…
This world is unforgiving and dependent on results alone. No country wants to see their national team whitewashed in any tournament, let alone lose a test as current World Champions. Even if a ‘clown’ coaches the team, supporters will pay the admission fee to the matinee show to the circus – as long as you win.
I have personally been accused of always taking the side of De Villiers, pretty similar to how I was accused of taking the side of Jake White in 2006 and most coaches before them even. I can assure you that I get as frustrated with the individual and the team as the next guy, but I also have an understanding of ‘their world’, and it’s damn tough.
The funny thing, or actually ironic situation De Villiers finds himself in, is that in two weeks, he will go on a 12-month journey that could possibly make him the most successful Springbok coach of all time!
Saturday saw the 12-month countdown (exactly 1 year) to the World Cup Final to be played in Auckland – that is right folks – exactly 1 year from now we will know who the Rugby World Cup champs are.
If De Villiers is worried about the real world, this is what he can look forward to.
In two weeks from today his team will take on Ireland, followed by the remaining three home unions in a quest to win a Grand Slam Tour for the first time in 50 years. Following this, he will go into a Tri-Nations tournament with a reduced schedule (because it’s in a World Cup year) where if he wins 3 games only, he might just win the tournament based on historic results on the same format.
Not even a month after that tournament concludes, the Rugby World Cup starts which will present him and his team with the opportunity as the first team in history to win back-to-back World Cup’s.
Add a Tri-Nations title and British & Irish Lions test series victory already under the belt to all that, and you have a making of a golden era for Springbok rugby that will not be easily repeated or seen while I am still breathing.
Well that is what most thought in 2006 around the same time Jake White went on his European tour less than a year out from the World Cup.
So my message to De Villiers will be quite simple.
Don’t expect anyone to understand the ‘real world’ as you see it, rather see the reality they see, and that is to go out and win this Grand Slam title, and retain the World Cup – if you accomplish this, you will be the most respected ring-master in history.Tweet