Africa News Team
Greatness in sport is often decided in milliseconds. A hero is made or broken in an instant. Of course, there is far more behind the scenes than the short moment, a freeze-frame immortalised forever.
There is the vision, the mission, the strategy and the game plan. Systems are put in place and methodically everyone in the team works towards achieving the goal. When something goes wrong, as it inevitably does, then there is crisis management, a rethink and measures are put in place to bring the train back onto the tracks.
If only it were that easy, right?
South Africa is a country of sport-loving people. That much is clear. But it is also a country where disappointment and resentment often spill over into the public domain and the back pages become the front pages.
Let’s consider rugby. The great, mighty Springboks. 1995 and 2007 World Champions. Now nothing more than an also-ran team fighting in the middle of the pack for its day in the sun with New Zealand. Sound harsh? It’s true.
Gone are the days when the bleary-eyed fans could blame so-called quote selections. The game isn’t won or lost on whether the blindside flank is black or white. In fact, despite being hopelessly under-transformed, the Bok team is such now that there is no doubt that when Siya Kolisi runs onto the field he is the best in that position.
Right, so quotas don’t hold water. What then? The coach?
Anyone who thought Allister Coetzee had what it takes to coach the Boks into the best team in the world needed their head checked. It was always obvious that the very nice and warm rugby man was not the man for the job. Is he talented? Yes. Is he the best? No. Who is? That is debateable and an argument no one will win.
Heyneke Meyer coached the Bulls to become the best club side in the world and he only managed third place at the last world cup, having become the first coach to watch his side lose to Japan. Not in the privacy of Bloemfontein, but on the biggest stage in the world.
Let’s go higher up. What about the administrators? Is everyone singing from the same hymn sheet? We highly doubt that.
What South Africa needs is a vision, and then the leadership to make sure the mission and strategy is carried out at all levels. There is far too much focus on the leading edge of the rugby fraternity – the Boks on a Saturday afternoon, and not enough emphasis and direction elsewhere. How can you expect the head of a fish to be glistening with life when the body is rotten?
Alas, in the case of SA rugby, losers are not made in milliseconds but over years and years of losing ground to the incredible management and leadership of New Zealand that knows how to nurture talent into a national strength.