The Grand Slam dream is over. The one thing that could have redeemed the Boks and its management came to an embarrassing end on Saturday as the Springboks went down to the Scots, and as my three-year old would say; ‘Now what now?”
Indeed, what now?
Predictably I see calls all over the show for De Villiers to get fired, even my friends from SharksWorld are asking me over emails whether I still ‘back him’?
To answer that it would probably be best to go back to what I said about the Springboks, and Springbok management in the past, and that was, if a decision is made regarding the Springboks and especially management, it has to be done with the view on improving the current situation.
Now of course the first reaction of most will be; ‘How can it get any worse than what we have seen in 2010, and a loss like we had against Scotland last weekend?’, and although I would agree it might not get any worse, I believe change like the ones suggested now, won’t improve anything either.
Firstly one has to look at De Villiers in isolation, and ask whether he is a good, or bad coach? There are arguments both ways and his record although having a lot of downs, has had a lot of ups too.
Secondly we would have to look the team environment and if a new coach is appointed right now, if much or anything will change?
I don’t think De Villiers is necessarily a bad coach, but I do think there is a lot of scope for improvement. I have voiced my concerns about the Boks and De Villiers often in the past, most importantly of which is my belief of the lack of expertise in the coaching department to assist the head coach.
Secondly, and more recently, is my concern with De Villiers seemingly being hesitant to make the tough calls, and wrestle some power back which he has extended too much to the senior players in the recent past – in other words, I think the setup needs discipline.
All of these are issues that can be easily rectified in my view, which is why I suppose I ‘back’ the coach.
Now the primary reason for not ‘backing’ the coach is centred around the World Cup it seems, where there is no hope in hell of us winning it, and that changing coaches even at this late stage, will change that or give us some hope.
I find this amusing if not a bit daft.
If we are going to fire a coach because we do not believe he can win a World Cup that has not taken place yet, then why appoint a coach for that sole purpose which will no doubt be nothing more than a hospital job?
Many who has read my views during the last World Cup will know I detest the competition. Union’s whole cycle is built around that and say what you want about the guy, Keohane is right about one thing, the Rugby World Cup is just another tournament like the Six Nations or Tri-Nations, with the only difference being that it is a knock-out tournament which is both easy to win, and easy to lose for that very reason.
So why do we need a coach, or any team, to build 4 bloody long years towards one where results inbetween (just look at Jake White) means nothing? The World Cup is a competition which needs the same, or similar build up to any competition.
But the reality is, everything now is about the World Cup.
And this brings me to the team context (excluding coaches).
If we do bring in Heyneke, Rassie, Allister, Mitchell, Plumtree or any of the other names touted as possible replacement to De Villiers should he be fired today, how will the team and player context change, if at all?
Given it will be a hospital job to ensure we stand a good chance of winning the World Cup, will any of these coaches drop John Smit, Victor, Schalk, Juan, Fourie, Morne, Jean, Habana or any of the seasoned senior Boks who are incumbents when fit?
Will there be a dramatic or evolutionary change in the way we play the game in the 5 tests left leading up to the World Cup?
I don’t think so.
None of them will make Victor a better line-out specialist, Morne a better kicker, Fourie a better scrumhalf or John a better captain.
So as much as De Villiers and his assistants deserve a lot of blame for the embarrassing loss to Scotland over the weekend, or the whole of 2010, the problem is not them alone but also the players, and how they execute on the field.
I will be bold enough to say that none of the coaches suggested to take over from De Villiers will have the balls to change the Bok approach fundamentally, because for that they would need to change the team, and team personnel fundamentally. In fact, no matter who takes over, I expect a similar game plan to what we saw in 2009 and 2010, because that is what our players know and trust.
Peter de Villiers is being asked to resign or be fired (by the media) based on the World Cup next year, and I think that is stupid. So if you ask me in the current context or the one explained here if I still back De Villiers, my answer is quite simply yes.
However, if you ask me if I believe we can appoint a better coach right now for Springbok rugby as a whole, looking beyond just a World Cup but looking to win at least 75% of our games over extended periods, I would say yes.
So by all means, fire De Villiers, but do it for the right reasons, and a World Cup hospital job is not it.Tweet