RE: Has BOK rugby stagnated
October 12, 2012, 08:10:26
As a student of history - also in sport - it is an established fact that sports performance tend to go through cycles. You get to a stage where any sports team goes to the top and stays there for a while and performances subsequently decline and the team is lower rated than it used to be.
Take for instance the example of the Australian cricket team. For many years in the late 1990's and early 2000 's Australia was unquestinably the top cricket team in the world. Then the players that took and kept them at the top started to leave the fame and their ratings in world cricket went down.
Now let get to rugby. The same happens in rugby and has been in evidence in rugby over the past two decades. In the main the constant winning of world cups by different teams are typical examples that the same thing happens in rugby. Teams build up top outfits and then try and retain them for the next WC. Never really successful at all.
In the case of the Springboks the cycles are often influenced by issue that basically have nothing to do with the game and is often reflected in issues of another nature. However, it is emphasized by our rugby management - who in fact has a tendency to shoor themselves in the foot anyway. That further illustrate the cycic impact I mentioned earlier.
At this stage the prolems relating to performance by the Springboks are evident. A lot of players that came to the fore by 2004 and did have an impact on the 2007 WB win and performances up to 2009 left the scene towards the end of 2011 I always said that they in fact over-stayed their welcome. One of th side-effects was that there was no real player renewal after the 2007 WC win and many people left SA rugby as a result of deficient future prospects - bearing in mind that rugby is in fact a profession with a rather short periof in which it can effectively be practised.
That brings me to the present team and what the position is in the wider context. I think that the cycle I refer to are in fact in the lower area - but as happened in the past it is bound to go up. I have written repeatedly about the age factor of players and the problems related to player renewal. In South Africa player renewal was stagnant for years - and now the situation is in fact that the team has too many youngsters and inexperienced players. The problem is not so much in forward play - even in the recent tests against the All Blacks the situation in fact was that the forwards gained more than their fair share of possession. It is basically in backline play - where they were for instance comprehensively outplayed in the test last week.
Personally I am not partiicularly worried about that issue at all. I think that next years Championship will show some improvement and the build-up will continue throug to 2015 and later. What is evident is that the younger players at this stage of their career should not necessarily be compared - there is too much building up needed in their cases.