Players must have say in ending SA rugby chaos – Duane Vermeulen
The poor state of Springbok rugby – and South African rugby in general – has left most sideline commentators espousing solutions and calling for heads.
But from the people in the game’s inner sanctum – coaches‚ players and administrators – the silence has been deafening since the All Blacks delivered a chilling comment on the state of rugby in the country last Saturday.
Bok No 8 and talismanic leader Duane Vermeulen cannot stand it any longer.
Watching in France on Saturday hours before he took the field for Toulon‚ as a proud Springbok, Vermeulen hurt more than most South Africans.
This year the Boks have won only four of nine tests and lost at home to Ireland for the first time and away to Argentina for the first time.
Vermeulen ‚ 30‚ who is available for selection for the Bok squad for their tour to Britain and Italy next month, wants to play test rugby again and add to his 37 caps.
But he says he cannot commit to returning to South Africa because of the way rugby is being run.
However, he is also willing to contribute to finding a solution to the problems.
“We need an intervention and I can’t sit and say nothing any more,” he said.
“I feel it’s always the coaches that have their say in a team environment and as a player there is no time to focus and to talk about issues in SA Rugby.”
“We tend to only focus on the game itself. I feel the need to speak up as a player‚ for the players. “Where did everything go wrong?”
“We were a powerhouse in world rugby and I feel it is my duty to say something on the record about the situation.”
“I don’t know how much respect there is for players any more. “I feel for them and it’s partially our fault because we stay silent, but it also starts at the top and we need clear and decisive leadership.”
He backs the idea of the coach’s indaba‚ which is later this month‚ but says it has to be taken seriously and serve as the beginning of setting out a blueprint for all South African rugby to follow.
“But I know from experience that the arrogance of some coaches in SA might be a problem because I don’t believe they will share all they have.”
“At this meeting, everyone must say what they want to say‚ but in the end we have to reach a common goal about how we want to play the game.”
“Hopefully, from this we will find a style that South Africans will play from junior levels all the way through to the Springboks. “Every detail from setpieces‚ attack and defence must be defined and set out in a plan and everyone must play the same.”
In that way we will improve our skills and ability. “By doing that we will improve our coaching structures and give coaches a pathway to higher honours as well. “It also helps to develop coaches in South Africa so we don’t have to look overseas.”
“If coaches don’t adhere to the agreement and principles that are set out then they should either be fined or sacked. That should be the message from SA Rugby.”
“It all starts at the top, and that is chaos at the moment. “By the top‚ I also mean the sports ministry.”
“The sports minister has to help SA Rugby work towards and better plan for the future of the Boks.”