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Tackling the future of South African rugby

21 July 2020 PSG
Nick Mallett at PSG

Nick Mallett at PSG

Former South African rugby union player and Springbok coach Nick Mallett discussed the future of rugby in today’s Think Big webinar, hosted by PSG. Mallett said some exciting opportunities for rugby have emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“A global rugby season has long been the sport’s holy grail, and the pandemic has pushed this idea to the forefront. Having a nine-to-ten-month season is optimal as it gives players enough time to recuperate,” Mallett said. “While it is an incredibly complex task, given the perfect timing of the Six Nations it can be done. We need to prioritise the health of our players.”

There is also an opportunity to take a closer look at team structures and even divide South Africa differently, he said.

“I recognise it’s another complex task, but we need to divide South Africa differently. We need to spread the talent around the four super rugby franchises and this, I believe, must include the Eastern Cape because it is the heartbeat of black rugby,” he explained. Lizo Gqoboka, Siya Kolisi and Makazole Mampipi are examples of players from the Eastern Cape who built their careers in other unions.

If we want to see transformed and stronger rugby talent in South Africa, “we need to reduce our number of professional players, increase player development and then pay them better. We must also enter competitions that favour South Africa and I feel it suits us to compete in Europe,” he said.

What does the future hold for live sport considering Covid-19?

“If you don’t have spectators, you are not going to get a sponsor and if you don’t have TV viewers, you are not going to get advertisers around the event. The most important thing about sport is to provide entertainment. If other sports are more entertaining, rugby needs to look at its game as well as work toward attracting younger spectators, more female viewers and make it a game that people want to watch,” he said.

“It’s also worrying to see competitions where the game doesn’t matter,” Mallett added. For example, where teams in the bottom half don’t qualify for the next round, some supporters lose interest. Whereas in live sport where every result must matter, the game becomes enticing and serves a purpose to spectators.

“Unfortunately, due to the [physical] nature of the game, rugby will probably be the last sport to resume. South Africa has rising Covid-19 cases as we are getting out of lockdown and if one player on a rugby team gets it, the way teams travel, sleep and continuously interact, it’s going to call for isolation and ruin any competition.”

While this year might have to be cancelled, according to Mallett a Curry Cup in September as well as some international fixtures at the end of October are still being considered, depending on how things play out.

Even though South Africa has lost 18 players to better financial opportunities abroad, Mallet seemed confident about the country’s future. “With Rassie Erasmus as the director liaising closely with the four super rugby franchises and Springbok coach Jacque Nienhaber, we are on a very good path. In addition, we produce brilliant rugby players as indicated by the talent in our junior ranks. South Africa has a bright future ahead.”

On international investment into South African Rugby?

According to Mallett, “we have succeeded with a transformed team, the right coach and the correct culture, therefore incoming investors have to understand our political history and leave the management to our experts.”

In a conversation with Mallett after the webinar, he expressed his opinion on recent media announcements, “The news coming out of New Zealand that NZ / Australia wish to create a new Antipodean rugby competition in 2021, to replace Super Rugby, will mean that the South African professional rugby franchises will certainly move North in 2021,” he said.

The success of a game depends on more than just the players on the field. From strategic player selection to trusted team dynamics and proper planning, there are different types of expertise that contribute to the desired overall result.

“Depending on the external conditions beyond the control of the team and its administrators, each game requires a tailored approach,” added Adriaan Pask, CIO of PSG Wealth who hosted the discussion.

“The same applies to financial planning. A holistic and successful plan should consist of trust between a client and adviser, with support and strategies in place to see you through all scenarios and seasons, including the foresight to find opportunity in a crisis,” Pask concluded.

The full recording of Nick Mallett’s webinar discussion here...

Sign up for more free webinars in the series here...

 

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