The power of the Springbok brand, which Rassie Erasmus and his team have restored, needs to be the centre of attention in the transitory and building phase following the World Cup win and leading up to the British & Irish Lions tour in two years’ time, writes former Springbok hooker James Dalton for SA Rugby Magazine.
We must not be quick to forget where we’ve come from as a rugby nation. When Rassie Erasmus took over we had dropped from an international giant of the game to eighth in the World Rugby rankings.
In not forgetting the crisis of Springbok rugby, we need to remember the shortcomings in organisation, administration and coaching that led us to such a decline. In acknowledging those areas and remaining aware of how Rassie and co so significantly improved on them and built up new structures, we can safeguard our rugby and look to build on the incredible success of the last two years, which culminated in glory on the biggest stage.
The Springboks of the past two years have restored the pride and reverence of what has always been a powerful brand. As Rassie Erasmus resigns as head coach and focuses on being SA Rugby director of rugby, the onus is on his replacement to respect the structures and culture that he has put in place and build on them – adapting rather than completely changing them.
As much as there is no ‘I’ in a team when referring to the players, the same applies to the management around Springbok rugby. Too often in the past, coaches and certain individuals within management have been self-interested in their approach and disregarded the input of others and various resources available to them.
Rassie, from the beginning, engaged the provincial coaches, built up strong relationships with the players, was unbiased in his selections, and brilliantly managed players’ game time and injuries. The Boks also, most importantly, have become a transformed side racially and culturally. It is representative of the diversity South Africa can be proud of and one that can strongly opposes any claims of racism threatening to taint a legacy.
The Springboks need to use the platform that they – the players, coaches and directors – have laid to continue to build and reinforce the power of a reinstated brand. Let’s learn from other successful professional teams, from successful businesses, and continue the trend of professionalism that has become evident in the Springbok set-up of the past few years.
We have the player pool, we have the coaching talent, we have all the resources and, most importantly, for the first time in a long time we have our nation entirely behind us.
As amazing as that is, there is a huge responsibly that comes with it. The way in which we respond as a rugby nation to our growth and success of the past two years – both with regard to results and transformation – will be almost as important as the growth and success itself.