JOHANNESBURG – What the heck is going on in South African rugby?
If it’s not the disappointing – and at times shocking – results between the four white lines, it’s the surprises off the field that have left rugby fans asking what on earth is happening on the fields and in the board-rooms across our country.
There are problems and major issues being dealt with at virtually all the major unions, and that includes at SA Rugby.
The national body’s CEO Jurie Roux and Stellenbosch University are set to face off in court next month over claims he possibly benefited personally from ‘seemingly misappropriated funds’ while he was financial director at the institution.
While Roux has denied he acted inappropriately, it is an issue that is hanging over Saru like a dark cloud.
But there are problems elsewhere, too, that are not doing the game in this country any good.
Not far from Stellenbosch and Saru’s head offices in Cape Town, there are issues at Western Province and the Stormers around the union’s Performance and Innovation manager Paul Treu’s alleged meddling in coaching affairs. This follows hot on the heels of a coaching shake-up which has seen John Dobson come in from next season, while Gert Smal has opted to move abroad.
In Durban, Sharks CEO Gary Teichmann has decided to call it quits, while questions have been asked about the team’s up-and-down Super Rugby performances which have seen them go from the high of handsomely beating the Lions at Ellis Park to badly losing to the Jaguares and Reds. Some have called into question head coach Rob du Preez’s selections.
Moving on to Gauteng, things have been no better. While results on the field have been at times good, and at other times poor, it is what’s happened away from the field that’s left many fans a little gobsmacked.
At the Bulls, serious fraud allegations have been levelled against former high performance manager Xander Janse van Rensburg, who recently left the union, while down the road at the Lions, head coach Swys de Bruin left the squad in New Zealand last week and is apparently receiving help for a medical condition, believed to be stress and pressure related. The team’s assistant coach, Joey Mongalo, is also facing an internal disciplinary hearing after being found guilty of indecent assault by a Sydney court.
And it’s not only the Super Rugby franchises that are trying to put out fires and keep fans and players happy. The Cheetahs are seemingly looking for a new coach after it came to light that current boss Franco Smith is allegedly headed to Italy to take up the head coaching job.
Furthermore, the results of the Cheetahs and Kings in the Pro14 competition are so poor one wonders what the point is of them playing in the competition at all? Between them they have won 9 out of 40 games played in the current 2018/19 season.
In many respects, South African rugby is not in a very good state at all. Besides the results, which have been generally poor and worrying, and the off-field issues, stadiums are also often more empty than they are full.
We can only hope that the issues mentioned here resolve themselves without too much damage being done, and that later this year the Springboks can mount a proper and serious challenge at the World Cup.
Because, heck, it seems we’re all in dire need of a good-news rugby story.