The All Blacks were the buzzword all over the world from national coaches right through to the fans. Everyone was in agreement the Kiwis are light years ahead of the rugby world and that all the contenders in pursuit of their crown will have to raise their game and do it quickly if they don’t want to see the All Blacks clinch their third title on the trot in Japan in 2019.
With the World Cup in the trophy cabinet and a head coach who’s been part of the management team for over a decade, last week New Zealand rugby – as expected – announced Kieran Read would take over the captaincy from the great Richie McCaw.
Even though the All Blacks won’t play until June, they have implemented their succession plan almost five months ahead of their season opener against Wales in Auckland. The Kiwis have so much faith in their system that another player leading a New Zealand franchise to Super Rugby honours won’t even get a look-in. Read has been groomed as McCaw’s successor and has been in charge for nine Tests.
And get this, should Read get injured, Sam Cane will in all likelihood take the reins after captaining the Kiwis in a World Cup match. Enough on the world rugby’s pacesetters. Let us take a look at one of the pursuers, the world No 3 Springboks, who will this year embark on a long journey in their quest to one day perhaps ascend world rugby’s throne.
But boy, are they off to a very bad start. Right at the top of the hierarchy, we have the Jurie Roux saga sticking out like sore thumb. I’m not going to go into the alleged particulars of the whole affair, but it is putting SA Rugby in an extremely bad light and numerous questions have been raised over the leadership of president Oregan Hoskins.
Then we move on to the coach. Wait a minute, what coach? There hasn’t been a Bok coach since Heyneke Meyer’s resignation last year and as things stand, one might only be appointed in April, barely two months ahead of facing Ireland at Newlands in the first of three Tests. Whoever accepts the job can brace himself to walk right into a transformation storm.
The kind that starts with an “s’’ and is not sand. The transformation paw-paw hit the fan on the eve of the World Cup and although the composition of Meyer’s squad didn’t get everyone’s approval, it was agreed the issue would be prioritised in future to ensure the national team is more representative. And that is just one box to tick on the new coach’s to-do list among hoping a flyhalf sticks up his hand in Super Rugby in the absence of Handre Pollard and Pat Lambie.
Probably right at the bottom of this list will be finding a new longterm captain before June, a little thing the All Blacks got out of the way in February. I realise Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you also don’t have light years to work with.