PRETORIA – It was but a foregone conclusion that the Crusaders would win their record ninth Super Rugby title last weekend.
And without sounding like many Springbok pessimists, the All Blacks will probably be crowned Rugby Championship champions again.
Even the most ignorant and ill-informed sports fan will tell you that New Zealand are light years ahead of the rest of the world and if anyone is looking for a blueprint for success with the oval ball, then follow what the men and women from the Land of the Long White Cloud have done over the years.
There is no secret in that but it doesn’t seem that anyone in the rugby world is interested in copying what New Zealand has done and instead everyone else is seemingly trying to reinvent the wheel.
Well, in the northern hemisphere they seem to get it and if you can’t beat them, join them or rather buy them!
We’ve seen the success of the British and Irish Lions on their tour of New Zealand last year where they got to share the spoils with their world champion hosts and we’ve seen what has happened in Wales and even Scotland.
Japan won’t be too far behind and the Sunwolves have at least managed to be competitive and even beat South African and Australian teams in Super Rugby but not their New Zealand counterparts yet.
What do these teams have in common that South Africa doesn’t seem to be interested in doing?
Well, the Lions were coached by New Zealander Warren Gatland and so too Wales, while Scotland had Vern Cotter at their helm when they pulled the rug from under the feet of the bigger teams in the Six Nations and almost did the same at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Oh, there’s also Joe Schmidt who has transformed Ireland from a middle of the road outfit into a formidable one who could, on their day, lay claim to being contenders as one of the best teams in the world.
In Japan, there is Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown and it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the Sunwolves had the beating of the Bulls and Stormers this year, while Japan will make for an interesting host at next year’s Rugby World Cup.
What these New Zealand coaches have done is take the same old winning blueprint used in their country and openly shared it with the rest of the world, except here in South Africa.
Not that South Africa are being denied this blueprint but it is in the archaic way of doing things in the southernmost tip of Africa that has seen the Springboks and South African Super Rugby franchises lag behind what was once their most their bitterest of rivals.
The Crusaders have shown that an investment into home grown coaching, a tried and tested pipeline from schools and club rugby and a retention and appreciation of their talent will take a team right to the top.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson played and won Super Rugby with the Christchurch based outfit and so did his predecessor Todd Blackadder.
A lot of the backroom staff and those pulling the purse strings at AMI Stadium have red and black blood coursing through their veins and always put the team first.
This is the same for most, if not all, the teams in New Zealand with their ultimate goal being one and to make sure that the All Backs are the best team in the world.
South Africa says they are learning from New Zealand but that’s all that it is.
Maybe, just maybe, if everyone within South Africa’s rugby fraternity takes off their blinkers, they can embrace a winning culture like that of the Crusaders and New Zealand rugby by hiring some of their coaches and working for the good of the Springboks.
Then maybe there’ll be a South African side that will win Super Rugby and the Springboks the World Cup, again.@Vata_Ngobeni