Keith Nicholls
Keith Nicholls

A sign of things to come?

Last week, Peter de Villiers let the nation know that John Smit would continue as Springbok captain. As decisions go, this was a no-brainer, Smit being a well-respected captain, a great player and the man who led the Boks to World Cup glory.

In his first meaningful decision as Bok coach, De Villiers did what most of the rugby-loving public wanted — gave the Boks some form of continuity. But no sooner had he made his announcement than there were rumblings of discontent from the administration.

Mike Stofile took exception to De Villiers’s announcement.

“I do not know who appointed John Smit as Springbok captain. Whoever made this appointment did it without the leadership of rugby being involved,” he reportedly said.

“The Super 14 has also just started, so it is too early to choose a captain now. If I was the coach, I would first assemble the squad and assess them. Once I have done that, I will pick the captain from there.”

Now, it may well be that there are some internal procedures that De Villiers should have adhered to before publicly naming Smit as captain.

But just who is Stofile to pronounce on coaching issues?

He would do well to remember that he is an administrator, and should not be making public his thoughts on coaching through his office as deputy president of SA Rugby.

De Villiers is the coach. He is the one who should ultimately be allowed to succeed or fail by his own hand, without hindrance.

Every man and his dog believe, at some stage or the other, that they know better than the national coach. That’s just the nature of being an avid sports supporter.

But to hear a member of the administration second-guessing his coach’s decision in the public domain is just not on. Does Stofile have a better coaching pedigree than De Villiers? Not that I’m aware of.

Stofile’s utterances are unfortunately symptomatic of the many problems that beset South African sport. We read far too much about the people running sport than sport itself.

More worrying, though, is that De Villiers has already garnered some form of rebuke so early in his tenure. Is he too, like so many before him, going to but heads all the way?

The more things change, the more they stay the same.