Breaking The Losing Streak Jinx: SA Rugby Moves To Overhaul Springbok Governance


Following what has been labeled a ‘profound disappointing’ season for South African rugby, the president of SA Rugby has highlighted plans to overhaul SA Rugby administration and initiate a Springbok review process to break the losing streak jinx.

According to Mark Alexander, SA Rugby’s first priority is about how to better Springbok performance. He added that a well-structured plan has been advanced to bring governance structures more in line with the demands of professional sport.

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Mr. Alexander acknowledged that it has been a profoundly disappointing season in terms of results for SA Rugby and that management is aware of its failure to live up to the Springboks’ proud heritage.

He said:

We have collectively let down our supporters, our commercial partners and our broadcast partner, SuperSport. I would like to apologise to all our stakeholders for the disappointments we have all suffered this season.

We are all feeling very raw and let down and it would be easy to make knee-jerk decisions. But we must resist that.

For instance, our playing fortunes have been declining since the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour of 2014 – despite a fine fightback to win a bronze medal at the Rugby World Cup – and we must coolly and coldly analyse what have been the main factors contributing to those results before determining what remedies are at our disposal to solve them.”

He disclosed that the remedy process will start with speaking to the coach and other team role players for their assessment, and a critical review of the selection policy relating to overseas-based players.

“We’ve seen an unusually high number of injuries to key players this year, and we’ve lost many experienced Test players to overseas clubs, both of which have had major repercussions for the Springboks.

“We have to find ways to manage these challenges. But I can assure our supporters and stakeholders that if tough decisions have to be made we will not shy away from making them,” added Alexander.

He further disclosed that a General Council meeting on 9 December would go a long way to determine the future of rugby in South Africa.

He related that some constitutional changes would be placed before the unions for their consideration.

The constitutional changes he said, are regarded by the Executive Council as the major and important steps to make structures more efficient and better purposed to meet the needs of professional rugby.

“Obviously their impacts will only be felt over coming months and years. But we believe that they will have a positive impact on the way rugby is managed,” he said.

Among other things, the changes planned include:

  1. New franchise and non-franchise rugby committees to improve communication between unions and Executive Council; to make recommendations on competitions and playing affairs, and to speed up decision-making.
  2. Allowing third parties to take a majority shareholding in Unions’ commercial arms and have a voice in running rugby through the new franchise rugby committee.
  3. Doubling independent representation on the Executive Council to four members plus the representative of the players.
  4. Terminating the role of the vice-president (at the end of the current term in 2018) to bring the elected representation to six.

Also, plans are being made to create an Advisory Board of individuals from business and civic society to act as a sounding board for rugby. However, the board wouldn’t have any constitutional role.

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Alexander affirmed that the plans would provide a structure better placed for rugby to navigate its current challenges in South Africa.

“…But, our number one priority is a turnaround strategy for the Springbok team and that will be looked at immediately and decisively,” he assured.

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