Professionalism? Can you eat it?

Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :Original Content, Super 14 on 10 Feb 2010 at 14:25
Tagged with :

A recent discussion between an myself and an acquaintance prompted me to assess the general mindset in South African rugby.

The person I spoke to said he recently met a sports marketing agent, and what was interesting for him is how he did not realise that we have come so far in sport in South Africa.

I reminded him that rugby in this country has been professional for a good 15 years almost so it should be hardly surprising that certain individuals make their living of promoting the game, and players from the game for financial gain.

He then asked how I reckon we compare against the likes of the same sports marketing agents in other professional sports and all I could do was smile…

I know I have covered this topic to boredom in the past on the professionalism in SA Rugby, but having read a recent article by one of the better rugby writers out there, Dan Retief, I was again reminded of something I said (I am sure Dan stole it from me!) a while back on how we conduct ourselves as professionals in a sport worth millions, and how even failure is celebrated or how we celebrate mediocrity.

Dan in his SuperSport column wrote: “Each team plays 13 matches and you pretty much need eight (8) wins to reach the last four – the unpleasant reality being that finishing fifth is as good as ending up in 14th place.”

Pretty much what has been mentioned before that even though one of our teams finish a South African best 3rd or 5th, they are nothing more than the best of a bunch of losers. They might be better than the next team, but they are still losers.

It got me thinking on the South African teams who are constantly ‘re-building’, or on an ‘upward curve’, or going through a ‘transition’ period, or (enter your own cliché here).

Of course in large the ‘system’ in which competitions run under the guidance of either SANZAR (Super 14) and SA Rugby (Currie Cup, etc.) allows for these ‘bragging rights’ or feelings of content for teams, coaches and supporters of the specific teams whether that is ending 3rd, or 10th.

It does raise questions however on how professional our approach is in the expectation of any team (specifically South African for the context of this column) for the Super 14 each year. One or two of our teams have ‘realistic’ expectations or goals of reaching the play-off’s every year, while the rest ‘aim’ to end in the top 10!

Is this really good enough for professional institutions or teams?

Just what does it say about teams like the Stormers, or Lions, or Cheetahs who have been in this competition for 5 to 12 seasons now? Are expectations of ending in the top 10 or top 7 really good enough or should we insist that the level of professionalism is lifted to that of; “Top 4, or don’t even bother pitching up please”?

Of course we cannot expect all four or five of our teams to end up 1 to 5 on the log, but my question is really more to the approach of these so-called professional setup’s where they ‘aim’ for mediocrity masking behind every conceivable clichéd excuse one can imagine.

Perhaps it is the system that needs changing, where the fear of loss is not only confined to the scoreboard or log every end of the season, but also directly influence the organisation itself, through a lower league relegation system.

In the real world failure over a period of 5 years (or even less) is simply not tolerated, there is accountability.

Every day I hear about how we want to know how coaches gets hired and fired year in and year out (being blamed for losses and failure), yet the professionals sitting in the boardroom and in the offices directly responsible for the product (rugby) being delivered by said organisation, remains the same…

I think the answer is quite simple isn’t it?

The system does not allow for real change or change where it matters. The scariest part of all this, is that the only people that can really affect a change towards a more professional structure, are the ones protecting the current structures of mediocrity for very obvious reasons.

So forgive me if from this day forward, I laugh at anyone who dares put the words rugby and professionalism in one sentence.


  • Well, PDV thinks we can get 4 SA teams in the semis this year!!
    Oh wait, that was in 2008. 😆

  • Comment 1, posted at 10.02.10 14:32:05 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 1) : Stormers fans believe they are as good as 4 SA teams in the semi’s.

    (they got three pre-season cups you know….loool)

  • Comment 2, posted at 10.02.10 15:27:00 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • SARU just proved how professional they can be….not wanting to make a decision about Alberts and Ludick

  • Comment 3, posted at 10.02.10 15:56:33 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • hahahaha i have said this so many times on other forums…case in point the alberts/ludik saga, imagine wayne rooney not liking the fact that everton were perennial no-hopers, he then demands from the Toffees that he wants to go to Man U, and summarily “walks” out of Goodison Park & trains with Man U, and Alex Ferguson takes him to Japan on their pre-season tour…that kind of thing would NEVER ever be tolerated by the English Football Association, never!

    Case number 2, Rio Ferdinand “missed” scheduled drug tests, after the Man U doctors called him a countless number of times. when he decided to show up he said he has fallen asleep & forgot about the tests…a professional player forgetting he has to get tested? He got banned for 2 seasons and Man U fined him! Now Pedrie Wannenburg goes around confessing that he used drugs after someone has sent a video to the Blue Bulls, the club hides the issue & sweeps it under the carpet!

  • Comment 4, posted at 10.02.10 16:00:36 by Megatron Reply

  • @Megatron (Comment 4) : Ja man, it’s the Pap Sak grabbing SA Rugby lack of administrators…what you expect, and chances are this whole process was dragged out due to Lions delaying tactics…time will tell, one thing to agree on, SA Rugby is as useless as SASCOC’s soon to be jailed corrupt administrators.

  • Comment 5, posted at 10.02.10 16:07:04 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 5) : it’s easy also to blame the Lions, but where are the rules governing player movement & contracts & who is supposed to police them?

    Look Chelsea FC were fined a big sum of money for “talking” to Ashley Cole who was a contracted Arsenal player at the time! If a team is interested in a player, they have to talk to the player’s current club, not to the player or his agent!

    if the Sharks approached the Lions & they were not interested in selling, Frikkie Easmus as the player’s agent should have sorted it out, not the Sharks…

  • Comment 6, posted at 10.02.10 16:18:21 by Megatron Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 5) : The Lions delaying tactics?
    Why was it ever the responsibility of the Lions to hurry this process along? The sharks wanted the players to play for them, it was their responsibility all along to a.) declare through arbitration that the contracts were invalid, or b.) approach the Lions and discuss a transfer fee, and obtain a clearance certificate.

    They did neither.

  • Comment 7, posted at 10.02.10 16:20:02 by Greg Reply

  • @Greg (Comment 7) :

    The Lions management have been nothing but vindictive and obstructive. They lost out to Fourie, and are now stubbornly trying to prove “whose the boss” with Alberts and Ludick – when the have the same contract that Fourie had.

    Rather learn the lesson and move on!

  • Comment 8, posted at 11.02.10 11:25:23 by Just a Fan Reply

    Just a Fan
  • @Just a Fan (Comment 8) : You have seen the contracts, and know for a fact that they are the same? The name Jaques Fourie scratched out, and Willem Alberts written there?

  • Comment 9, posted at 11.02.10 12:35:25 by Greg Reply

  • @Greg (Comment 9) : nah – they used tippex.

  • Comment 10, posted at 11.02.10 12:39:34 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 10) : 😆

  • Comment 11, posted at 11.02.10 13:02:43 by Greg Reply


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