Columnists 12.7.2017 03:07 pm

Super Rugby: Swys de Bruin’s Lions post is not just common sense

Swys de Bruin's appointment was probably a necessity for the Lions. Photo: Barry Aldworth/Gallo Images.

Swys de Bruin's appointment was probably a necessity for the Lions. Photo: Barry Aldworth/Gallo Images.

If anything, the appointment of Johan Ackermann’s right-hand man is an extension of sound business practice.

When Swys de Bruin was named as the new Lions head coach on Tuesday, no-one was really surprised.

He’s half the reason why the Johannesburg-based franchise is where it is after Super Rugby relegation in 2012 and it simply makes sense in terms of continuity.

Also read: Super Rugby: Relief as Lions name Swys de Bruin as new coach

That’s enough motivation for employing the 57-year-old.

But it’s actually really interesting how De Bruin’s appointment reflects how the Lions do business.

Notably, it’s a way to save money.

De Bruin did have various offers that he could’ve considered, meaning the Lions probably did have to fork out some cash for a competitive offer.

In the long run though, they’ll save.

Had De Bruin not accepted, the union might’ve had to recruit someone expensive – think the Bulls and John Mitchell – or they could’ve opted for a bargain but those coaches tend to be inexperienced.

A cheap coach become expensive after all when you need to replace him within two years due to suspect results.

Now just imagine an expensive flop!

De Bruin is by far the most assured way of the Lions continuing their success given his intimate knowledge of the team.

One of the lesser debated but perhaps more important considerations is the culture of this side.

As brilliantly as the players have developed, one can’t look past the fact that this is a group of players with the same personal values.

Virtually all of them are deeply religious and extremely humble.

It’s a great dynamic but also a fragile one.

The Lions have managed to keep it intact by recruiting players with that ethos.

Yet somewhere along the line the supply of noble, somewhat Calvinistic Christians will run out.

In fact, you get the feeling that it takes just one of two mercurial recruits – more free-spirited men – to disrupt the carefully cultivated culture of the Lions.

I’m not saying they can’t accommodate “other thinkers” but it’s something to be wary of.

That’s why De Bruin’s appointment is not only logical, it was perhaps even necessary.

Back to more positive thoughts, it’s an indication of how well the Lions run their affairs.

De Bruin’s presence ensures the core of the side stays together, with none of the stalwarts leaving until at least the end of 2018’s Super Rugby campaign.

In this volatile climate, that sort of continuity is priceless.

Importantly, De Bruin will also run the rule over the next generation of players emerging at the Lions.

The union now has the power to sign some of South Africa’s best schoolboy talent because they could offer Johan Ackermann’s ethos.

Even with him gone now, they can still use that drawcard.

And the Lions have shown since 2013, it’s better – at least in this rugby climate – to develop your own stars, than try to buy them.

Heinz Schenk: Online Sports Editor.

Heinz Schenk: Online Sports Editor.

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