‘Anatomy of a sick Lion’

Written by Wesley Weber (wpw)

Posted in :In the news, Lions on 8 Jun 2009 at 07:34
Tagged with : , , , , ,

While discarded Golden Lions coach Eugene Eloff spent the last few days in Namibia, clearing his mind and enjoying some much needed R&R, the fallout over his departure continues to reverberate around Johannesburg and further afield.

Eloff took time out time out to chat, exclusively, to rugby365.com about the dramatic events that led to his dismissal and what the future holds for the veteran coach.

In what reads like a spy novel, with a web of deceit and lies, he has suggested that the Golden Lions Rugby Union top management were at times rather economical with the truth.

Eloff, who was adamant that he was disappointed but not bitter about his departure, said he would like to see the top management structures uphold the same “professional” standards they demand of the players on the field.

He said that he would have moved on without fuss if a “properly” conducted audit had found that it was in the best interest of the team and the union for him to be removed from office.

However, the manner in which the audit – if that is indeed what led to his dismissal – was conducted and the findings arrived at, is symptomatic of a ‘disease-riddled’ GLRU.

Describing it as a “cunning and well planned operation” to get rid of him, Eloff spoke of blatant lies and misleading statements by those in power – GLRU President Jannie Ferreira, CEO Manie Reyneke and even World Cup-winning coach Jake White, the man charged with conducting the much-maligned audit.

As a result of the events of the last few weeks and Eloff’s dramatic departure, a powerful group of former Golden Lions/Transvaal players have met at the weekend to form a lobby group to remove Ferreira and Reyneke from office.

A vote of no confidence will be brought against the President and CEO, with calls for their “immediate” departure.

For Eloff that will be too late.

He has already paid the price, but says that due to his “love of the province, the players, supporters and the sponsors”, he owes it to all the people to know what is going on in the inside … and why the union has gone down after Louis Luyt’s departure.

“I just don’t like dishonesty and there was a lot of that in the last week or so,” Eloff told rugby365, adding that he feels he can make a difference wherever he goes.

“I won two [junior] World Cups and in 10 years played in seven finals [at junior and senior level]. In fact SA Rugby are still using some of the systems I put in place [as coach of the national Under-19 team].”

But it is the manner in which those in power went about it to get rid of him that hurts the most.

He described Jake White’s audit as “a joke” and said he will request “a qualified audit to validate his findings that got them to fire me”.

He accused top management of “manipulation” and “lying” to the players, the supporters, the clubs, the media and sponsors.

“The players are leaving [the union] because of top management,” Eloff said.

“When [GLRU President] Jannie Ferreira told the players on the Monday that there’s no sword over my head, he used a very interesting line: ‘People who throw mud, lose ground.’

“I find that very ironic, because a lot of mud has been flung in my direction,” Eloff said.

Amongst the revelations made by Eloff include how White, while Eloff was transporting White back to his hotel, told the Lions coach that he was going to “assist” him.

“He [White] told me has was going to put structures in place for me, he was going to get top players and coaches to strengthen my hand … most of all he said: ‘JUST TRUST ME’.

“And 36 hours later I was fired.”

Eloff also countered a number of accusations levelled by the former Bok coach in a newspaper interview, remarks Eloff feels needs to be challenged to ensure his reputation, worldwide, as a coach is not harmed.

White suggested that the words “rugby” and “structure” didn’t belong in the same sentence at the GLRU.

“That was a very subjective remark and perception,” Eloff countered, adding: “He [White] is the first auditor with a teaching diploma that can take such drastic steps and make such remarks inside 48 hours – without written proof or foundation.”

It was also suggested that Eloff arrived at a “feedback meeting” totally unprepared.

Again Eloff countered White’s remarks by pointing out that it was on the instruction of the GLRU President, Ferreira, that he made no presentation at the meeting.

“I still have not been given a formal opportunity to give any feedback on the Super 14 and in that meeting they mostly told me what they tough was wrong … I was given very little time to speak or say anything,” Eloff said.

According to Eloff White also made disparaging remarks about players and conditioning at a meeting with the team.

“I just took a back seat, because if I had said anything it would have caused unpleasant and unnecessary conflict in front of the team.”

Eloff also dismissed White’s account that there was no proper planning, or proof of planning in place.

“I can show you all my planning for the past 10 years and if Jake asked I could have provided him with all the planning through to the end of the year – including what our fitness and other coaches do,” Eloff said.

“I question his [White’s] motives and the accuracy of his information, especially in regards to the audit that resulted in me having been stood down.”

Eloff also pointed to misleading statements by Reyneke and Ferreira during the entire saga and in the immediate aftermath.

He pointed to remarks attributed to Reyneke and team manager Mustapha Boomgaard, in which they suggested a number of players supported the changes and only “some senior players” wanted to strike.

“Al the players stood up and threatened to strike. I phoned Baywatch [captain Cobus Grobbelaar] and told him they should play in the match [against the British and Irish Lions],” a game the Golden Lions subsequently lost 17-74.

Eloff also revealed that a number of senior players had informed him, earlier in the year, that they are planning to leave as a result of the poor management by the top structures at the GLRU.

He also asked why was there no finances available to him to secure the “top class” players that White is now supposedly going to buy.

Other events during the entire 48-hour audit saga that still rankles with Eloff include Ferreira giving “feedback” that centres mostly on his character and mistakes he made.

He also pointed out that when White attended a training session on the Monday, as part of his “audit” White spent most of time on his phone.

“After training Jake said it was unorganised and made disparaging remarks,” Eloff said, adding: “He did not even know what the goals of the session were and was mostly on his phone.”

On the same day Ferreira told the team that Eloff is not going to get fired and after that White also uttered the infamous ‘JUST TRUST ME’ sentences.

White also insisted that the Lions should have trained on the Wednesday, the players’ official day off, which was cause for much unhappiness.

As it turned out, Eloff was axed that morning and stand-in coach Hans Coetzee took charge of training – but not before another meeting and a stand-off with the players.

Eloff also revealed that at one stage Reyneke had told the players he, Eloff, was going to “resign” after the match against the British and Irish Lions anyway, which Eloff described as a blatant lie.

“If the GLRU President and CEO can, on the basis of an amateur audit, decided within 36 hours that I must go, then something is amiss,” Eloff said, adding that he does have offers from abroad and local teams on his desk.

“I will take a few days to clear my head, but I’m not leaving rugby,” Eloff said.

“I still have a strong passion for the game.

“There are some options on the table, both local and abroad, despite everything that was said about me.”


  • Amongst the revelations made by Eloff include how White, while Eloff was transporting White back to his hotel, told the Lions coach that he was going to “assist” him.

    “He [White] told me has was going to put structures in place for me, he was going to get top players and coaches to strengthen my hand … most of all he said: ‘JUST TRUST ME’.

    “And 36 hours later I was fired.”

    😯 😯

  • Comment 1, posted at 08.06.09 07:46:05 by wpw Reply
  • Lions CEO apparently spoke of dozens of players he was going to bring to the Union, but: He also asked why was there no finances available to him to secure the “top class” players that White is now supposedly going to buy.

    Something is wrotten in the state of Lionsrugby.

    But at the end of the day, it’s about results and like others before him at various teams, no victory, no job.

    A three year plan that saw the Lions fail to improve in the S14 simply doesn’t cut it and Eloff must sadly understand that he failed to succeed.

  • Comment 2, posted at 08.06.09 08:28:53 by Baldrick Reply

  • @Baldrick (Comment 2) : wrotten? 🙂

  • Comment 3, posted at 08.06.09 08:33:59 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Baldrick (Comment 2) :

    He said that he would have moved on without fuss if a “properly” conducted audit had found that it was in the best interest of the team and the union for him to be removed from office.

    Sounds to me he acknowledged he made mistakes and would have moved on if it was found to be the main cause of the Lions problems.

    Where is Walter – something seriously wrong here.

  • Comment 4, posted at 08.06.09 08:38:07 by Morné Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : Your just being overly technical. You grammatically correct people’s!

  • Comment 5, posted at 08.06.09 08:49:10 by Baldrick Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 4) : He should have fallen on his sword. Anyway, when last did players put their hands up and leave en-masse because THEY were the actual failures, and not the coach?

    Nope, easier to fire a coach than a number of players.

    Anyway, either he didn’t teach defensive tactics or his team couldn’t tackle.

    or they believed that it was OK to concede 4 tries, they were going to score 5 with their exciting brand of rugby.

    Fun to watch, but not when you lose!

  • Comment 6, posted at 08.06.09 08:51:08 by Baldrick Reply

  • I would say heading for the basement but i think they plowed through that level ages ago.

  • Comment 7, posted at 08.06.09 09:01:18 by Worcestershire Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • what a mess – i felt sorry for Loffie – but not anymore.

  • Comment 8, posted at 08.06.09 09:13:00 by rekinek Reply
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  • @Baldrick (Comment 6) : Did you read White’s book? He tried this very same thing when he came to the Sharks, The Sharks players did complain loudly and White was shown the door. This whole thing smells of a rat! And I really do not care that White won us a WC what he did here is not right! I have met Loffie and have spoken to him regularly he is a down to earth guy, and upfront! The players respect him and he deserved better, even though he may not have succeeded at the Lions. Ludeke also failed dismilly at the Lions, at the Bulls he made a CC final and won the S14 – Its not always the coach!

  • Comment 9, posted at 08.06.09 09:17:23 by Sharksmad - The Blog's Dudette Reply

    Sharksmad - The Blog's Dudette
  • When last did the Lions have a successful season at Super rugby level??


    Under Laurie Mains no doubt.

  • Comment 10, posted at 08.06.09 09:19:55 by wpw Reply
  • @Sharksmad – The Blog’s Dudette (Comment 9) : Furthermore how successful were we really under White, we were losing hopelessly until Eddie Van der Jones came on board 😐

  • Comment 11, posted at 08.06.09 09:21:01 by Sharksmad - The Blog's Dudette Reply

    Sharksmad - The Blog's Dudette
  • @Sharksmad – The Blog’s Dudette (Comment 9) : methinks Loffie deserved better, but hey he was not really successful (and i take the point that it might have been due to players and structures). And now it looks like him and white will be badmouthing each other in media and both loosing people’s respect.

  • Comment 12, posted at 08.06.09 09:33:59 by rekinek Reply
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  • @wpw (Comment 10) : at least in CC they got to semis :mrgreen: (twice in a row i dare say)

  • Comment 13, posted at 08.06.09 09:34:49 by rekinek Reply
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  • @rekinek (Comment 8) :
    I still feel sorry for him. I think his contract was to end after the Currie Cup this year anyway. If they didnt want him then they could have got rid of him then. Anyone associated with this union must now be walking on eggshells, including those that got White and his “auditing team”in.

  • Comment 14, posted at 08.06.09 09:37:08 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @rekinek (Comment 13) :

    Did someone say ‘choker’?? 😈

  • Comment 15, posted at 08.06.09 09:44:14 by wpw Reply
  • Hey guys…

    Looks like heads are still going to roll in Transvaal…

  • Comment 16, posted at 08.06.09 09:45:01 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 16) :

    Transvaal?? 🙄

  • Comment 17, posted at 08.06.09 09:49:32 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 17) :

    Golden village… 🙄

  • Comment 18, posted at 08.06.09 09:51:06 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • I see there is a website to petition 7’s as an olympic sport.


  • Comment 19, posted at 08.06.09 09:51:21 by Ollie Reply

  • @Salmonoid (Comment 14) : maybe sth good will come out of it.

    @blackshark (Comment 16) : go roger :mrgreen:

  • Comment 20, posted at 08.06.09 09:52:09 by rekinek Reply
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  • @wpw (Comment 10) : correct.

  • Comment 21, posted at 08.06.09 09:54:27 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @Ollie (Comment 19) :
    But is sevens really rugby.
    Twenty20 is not cricket.

    Both, though, would be hugely popular Olympic sports.

  • Comment 22, posted at 08.06.09 10:00:59 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 22) :

    Maybe not by the purists version, but it will help the 15’s game globally in the long run, that is the important part.

  • Comment 23, posted at 08.06.09 10:06:43 by Ollie Reply

  • @Ollie (Comment 23) :
    Yep. and I think it will help grow the 15s game.

  • Comment 24, posted at 08.06.09 10:31:18 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @Ollie (Comment 19) :

    1. USA (3117)
    2. Spain (2781)
    3. Germany (2035)
    4. England (1508)
    5. Brazil (1306)
    6. Portugal (1099)

    more countries…

    7. South Africa (938)
    8. Argentina (931)
    9. Netherlands (901)
    10. Belgium (898)

    Yip all the $harks

    I chaLLenge you to go and suPPort!

    South Africa
    WiLLem Greifenstein | South Africa | Bloemfontein
    My team: Cheetahs
    Sport builds bridges between nations and communities. Rugby is a game that all body types can play. Sevens is the building block of Rugby Union. It is also a great spectator game.


    Get ‘n thread up- make a link…

    get aLL the Mr Price clad okes and okeTTes to sign!


    Brazil have a girls sevens team! 😯

  • Comment 25, posted at 08.06.09 10:36:23 by wiLLem Reply

  • 945 aLLready!

  • Comment 26, posted at 08.06.09 10:40:07 by wiLLem Reply

  • Why a petition to get rugby to the Olympics?

    Rugby is competing for inclusion to the Olympic Games with several other sports, like Karate, Golf, Squash and possibly even underwater Chess, Tug of War or something similarly exotic. In 2005 the International Rugby Board failed to get rugby in the Olympic Games 2012 in London. The olympic-rugby.org petition aims to swing the vote this time and generate as much publicity and momentum for the cause as possible, before the decision gets made in October 2009. Rugby is a team sport, so we must team up, scrum down and make it happen. Crouch, touch and pause – Engage!
    Why should I sign this petition?

    If you love rugby, big hits, tries and want to see the game grow on an international scale, giving more players the chance to compete at the highest level, this petition is for you. Olympic rugby will open up additional funding channels to grow the game, it will also draw new fans and sponsors. Many low profile rugby nations have sophisticated Olympic programs that would kick into action and take rugby to the next level. Sevens rugby will be a gateway for all forms of rugby to enjoy growth and large international suport. No doubt, Sevens and the fan culture will add a lot of character and colour to the Games. Hey, the Olympics are on, what to watch? The new kid, Sevens Rugby, steps past the Shot-Put defender, hands-off Individual Dressage, rounds Synchronized Swimming on the outside and goes over in the corner! What a try, you absolute beauty!!!
    How many signatures do we need?

    Only too many are enough, so get your team of 22, your mom and your cousin to sign up! There is no number that would guarantee inclusion of rugby into the Olympics, because the International Olympic Committee decides, but we can help the IOC’s decision along by mobilizing the masses of the rugby world and tackling the other contenders into touch. There are over 3 Million active players in 115 nations. The Rugby World Cup in France 2007 had a viewership of over 4 Billion people! It’s the last ten minutes of the Olympic Inclusion Finals and your signature will put rugby in the gap, to cut through the defense like a hot knife through butter and score under the Olympic posts! Wookaa!
    What do olympic-rugby.org do with the petition signatures?

    The IOC, the International Olympic Committee is meeting in June 2009 to discuss potential new sports to be included, Golf, Karate, Squash all being serious contenders. In October a decision on the Olympic Sports Program for 2016 will be made at a meeting in Copenhagen – there are two vacant slots! The National Olympic Committees (NOC) will send their representatives to decide at the conference. You and everybody else is free to contact their country’s committee member(s) and make a case for your sport’s / rugby’s inclusion. The NOC’s and their members can be found here: http://www.olympic.org/uk/organisation/noc/index_uk.asp Olympic-rugby.org is simplifying that process and provides a one stop platform to channel the combined forces of the rugby world towards the IOC by sending the petition signatures and motivations per country to each IOC member and the National Olympic Committees. The olympic-rugby.org Forwards maul perfectly off the lineout, strong pick and go and they are over the line, delivering 8 million signatures on the final whistle to win the game!
    Why Sevens Rugby at the Olympics?

    15 a side rugby as the traditional form requires a very long tournament (+6 weeks) and an extensive qualification, which is way too long for the Olympic Games format. Sevens is spectacular, high scoring, fast paced, exciting and an easy to understand version of rugby, one that is experiencing fantastic growth and quite simply rocks – even to a novice of the sport! It is also played by men and women, allowing for a dual competition, like at the 7s World Cup in Dubai 2009. It provides a flexible tournament format that allows 16, 20 or 24 countries to compete over two or three days. It is a spectator geared game and traditionally lots of fun is had in the stands. Sevens has been used at the Commonwealth Games, the World Games and the Pan American Games, so it is proven in the “Games” format. The break every seven minutes also won’t exactly frighten off sponsors. Carter to Sivivatu, Sivivatu to a boy who is now 15 years old! Go you good thing and he is ouvaaa! Absolutely sensational!
    Why do you ask for my email address as part of the petition?

    In order for you to be part of a serious petition, we need you to confirm that you are a real person signing up with a real name. We can’t make the case for rugby with 12 000 John Doe’s or 500 000 robot created spam signatures. So we need you to confirm it is you and your email, by clicking on the activation link you get emailed. Your email address will not be passed on or used in any other way or form – we hate spam as much as you do. It’s a ruck, roll away tackler and hands off (the emails)!

  • Comment 27, posted at 08.06.09 11:05:56 by wiLLem Reply


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