A new high performance ‘think-tank’ of top rugby coaches has been established by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) to assist elite teams at all age levels of the game.
The ground-breaking initiative for South African rugby will see a contracted team of specialist coaches in the ‘HP Mobi-Unit’ visit franchises, SARU national teams and even schools teams to share cutting-edge rugby knowledge.
“We are very excited about this new initiative,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU. “Historically, SARU have taken a ‘hands off’ approach to coaching interventions at the elite level. That was exclusively left to the provincial unions.
“But times have changed and as the game has become more technical and more analytical, the resources required to keep up to date have exploded. SARU can pool the resources we have in our national coaching panels as well as offer access to the considerable rugby knowledge we have on our staff.”
The HP Mobi-Unit is the brainchild of Rassie Erasmus, who was appointed as SARU’s General Manager of High Performance in 2012.
He has contracted specialist consultants into the Mobi-Unit to cover key areas of play:
• Pieter de Villiers, the former French international prop, will concentrate on scrumming
• Louis Koen, former Springbok flyhalf, will be responsible for the tactics and practice of kicking play
• Chean Roux, former Stormers looseforward and title-winning University of Stellenbosch coach, will be responsible for technical analysis
• Jacques Nienaber, the highly-regarded DHL Stormers defensive coach, will advise on defensive play. Nienaber’s involvement will, however, only be outside of the DHL Stormers’ Vodacom Super Rugby commitments.
• Rassie Erasmus, former Springbok looseforward and Absa Currie Cup-winning Free State Cheetahs coach, will concentrate on lineouts, gameplan and performance analysis.
“We have a massive amount of rugby expertise contracted to SARU through our national teams and in our offices, but it has been under utilised in the past,” said Erasmus.
“What we’re now offering is a back up to coaches in the form of a pool of consultants in specialist areas who can share their considerable experience as well as pass on the latest thinking.
“This is a three-year project, which we hope will broaden the base of rugby knowledge at the elite level by opening a two-way conversation.
“Critically, by establishing a common approach to play at the elite level, we hope it will ultimately assist the Springbok coach in getting maximum value out of the short time he has to prepare teams for Test matches.”
The HP Mobi-Unit was in action this week at the Junior Springbok training camp with Koen, De Villiers, Roux and Erasmus all working with players and the coach Dawie Theron’s management team.
Other Springbok coaching and medical staff will be utilised on an ad hoc basis, Springbok commitments permitting.
Erasmus said that the Unit’s technical analysis of matches throughout the competition would be pooled with franchises.
“One of the criticisms of SARU in the past among franchise coaches was that they didn’t receive much technical rugby input from us,” said Roux.
“By establishing this unit we have created a vehicle for a knowledge transfer in two directions at once which will be for the benefit of all our teams and, most importantly, for the Springboks.”