| 2017 wish list for SA rugby | 2017 wish list for SA rugby
  1. | 2017 wish list for SA rugby
    After an annus horribilis 2016, Herman Mostert hopes for a change in fortunes for South African rugby in…
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Cape Town - The Latin phrase annus horribilis, which translates to “horrible year”, is probably the best description for South Africa’s 2016 rugby season.

The Springboks were the main culprits, completing the year with a "record" of eight defeats in 12 Tests, the most suffered in a calendar year in history.

It gave coach Allister Coetzee a paltry 33% win-record, the worst of any Bok coach in the professional era.

However the Boks weren’t the only contributors to a bleak 2016, which started with an expanded 18-team Super Rugby competition which, quite frankly, no-one liked, or understood.

There were too many sub-standard match-ups and the lopsided manner of the draw meant not all teams were playing equally strong opposition.

Apart from the Lions, the South African teams flattered to deceive, with the Stormers lucky to finish third despite boasting a worse record than both the Highlanders and Chiefs, who, due to the complexity of the tournament format, ended up below the Cape side in the final standings.

SA Rugby is largely to blame for the current Super Rugby confusion.

Due to SA Rugby calling the shots financially at SANZAAR (as explained in a previous column), it has the bargaining rights which forced the tournament’s expansion to include the Kings.

The Lions also shot themselves in the foot when they sent a second-string team to Argentina for their final round-robin game. Had they beaten the Jaguares - who themselves flattered to deceive in their Super Rugby debut - South Africa could have witnessed a Super Rugby final at Ellis Park.

2016 also saw the introduction of the almost pointless Currie Cup “qualifying” competition, where the top six Super Rugby unions participated, knowing, despite their finishing position, that their qualification to the Premier Division was guaranteed.

The “qualifying” competition also had no sponsor, and in case you didn’t notice, Western Province emerged victorious.

Farcically, they didn't receive a trophy for their efforts, so took it upon themselves to buy their own!

That’s where Province’s good deeds for the year ended unfortunately, as news broke of financial strife which forced the union into liquidation.

The manner in which matters were “resolved” left a sour taste and there will no doubt be more courtroom battles in that regard in 2017.

The Currie Cup Premier Division was won by the Cheetahs, but the tournament lacked its previous spark with top Springboks hardly featuring.

It was welcome news to learn of boardroom discussions, although not finalised, regarding a change in format for 2017 - perhaps a strength versus strength six-team top flight competition.

More players left these shores chasing greener pastures in Europe to add to the gloom that made for a sombre 2016.

I have subsequently drawn up a wish list for 2017. Some of these wishes are unlikely to come true, but it’s still fun to mention:

- Allister Coetzee is replaced as Springbok coach. Brendan Venter and Rassie Erasmus could make for a good combination. Attempts to lure the latter back from Ireland would prove tricky.

- The man who speaks the most sense in South African rugby, Nick Mallett, somehow gets involved on a consultancy basis, whether at the national team or helping the Super Rugby franchises. Mallett needs to stay on SuperSport, he is after all the reason we stay tuned post-game, but his knowledge would be invaluable for coaches and players.

- Thelo Wakefield resigns, or is sacked,…

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