Developing SA’s rugby coaches

12 July 2013

The South African Rugby Union (Saru) on Thursday launched its Footprint Programme in Mthatha with the help of Springboks Siya Kolisi, Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Duane Vermeulen and Pierre Spies, Springboks assistant coaches and members of the Springbok Women’s team.

Launched at a Saru Coaching Symposium in rural Transkei, a two-day event jointly arranged by Saru and the Eastern Cape Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, the programme aims to deliver the latest rugby coaching techniques and skills to all corners of South Africa.

On Wednesday, 50 coaches from the Transkei Rugby Union, a sub-union of the Border Rugby Union, attended the symposium, which included a workshop presentation and a practical demonstration coaching session by the three Springbok assistant coaches and Springbok players Kolisi, Strauss, Spies, Vermeulen and Nyakane. They were joined by Mandisa Williams, the Springbok Sevens Women’s captain.

Presentation

Rassie Erasmus, the Saru General Manager for High Performance, delivered a presentation on Wednesday to eager coaches at the Walter Sisulu University, while Springbok assistant coaches, Johann van Graan, Ricardo Loubscher and John McFarland, using the Springboks, demonstrated to the coaches how to master the basic technical techniques in areas such as tackling, scrumming, lineout play and the breakdown.

Erasmus, a former Springbok captain and provincial rugby coach, said the Footprint programme is designed to assist coaches in even the most remote parts of the vast South African platteland.

“This programme aims to assist the coaches to teach and apply the proper coaching techniques in the technical aspects of the game.

“Players in the rural areas have the natural skill, flair and the ability but they lack the technical skills which are needed in areas such as scrums, lineouts and the breakdown,” Erasmus said.

Web-based programme

“It is a web-based programme that is really user-friendly and easy to understand. Coaches will be able to access a website from where they will be able to download the necessary materials, which are designed in an easy to understand formula.”

Recognising that not everyone has access to a computer, Erasmus added: “We fully realise that access to computers and connectivity are real barriers in such areas, and where a coach is unable to access the website, we will supply them with DVDs and further instructions by text messages. In this regard, we will work closely with the Eastern Cape Department of Sport to establish a support network for all the coaches.

“The idea is to build a database of players in the areas, track and monitor their progress and then to give us feedback at a later stage so we can design maybe some methods of intervention.

“The coaches are so enthusiastic and willing to learn and I am glad we could come and assist the development of rugby in an area where there is such passion and love for the game,” said Erasmus.

Eventually, he added, Saru aims to spread the pilot programme to all corners of South Africa.

Delighted

Kolisi said he was delighted to assist in the project. “I know there is a lot of raw talent in places such as Mthatha and other rural areas of the Eastern Cape,” he said.

“It is very important for players to learn the proper, basic techniques from a young age and who better to teach them that than the coaches. I am therefore delighted that Saru has initiated this project, which is aimed at upskilling the coaches.”

Deidre Sedras, General Manager for the Eastern Cape Department of Sport, said the Department wants to increase the base, quality and support of local coaches through this programme.

“We are extremely proud to be a partner in this programme and we hope this will be the start of a very successful partnership with Saru in this regard,” she said.

SAinfo reporter and SA Rugby