Chumani Booi must crawl before he can walk at Elephants
Coach should not be expected to perform miracles in his first season after union’s recent woes
SA rugby needs black coaches to make their mark but they should be given the right environment and the tools to succeed.
The Eastern Province Elephants were not quite in the best playing shape in the Currie Cup First Division in 2018. However‚ that was a by-product of the administrative mess that bedevilled the union until recently.
With Chumani Booi now at the coaching helm of the Elephants‚ it will be a matter of patience and perseverance. He cannot and should not be expected to perform miracles in his first season.
One has to crawl before one can walk and the EP Rugby management should consider this in what will be a tricky year for SA Rugby.
Booi‚ a decorated former provincial player who has transitioned to coaching relatively easily‚ should be allowed to make mistakes and not be hung out to dry.
In an environment featuring few black coaches‚ there needs to be an example who has been invested in and afforded the resources to make the best of his coaching abilities.
Coaches often cut their teeth at SuperSport Challenge and Currie Cup First Division levels from a technical‚ tactical and man-management perspective. Booi will be tested in all these facets in the First Division, because the Premier Division does come across as a half-closed door for the lower-tier sides. After all‚ the First Division winners have to face the bottom-placed Premier Division in what is an unfair and archaic practice.
The die‚ though‚ has been cast in that manner for First Division teams who are not as well-resourced and‚ at times‚ well-managed compared with their Premier Division counterparts.
First Division sides will also be hit hardest by the skimming of provincial player numbers. In an era of austerity measures‚ First Division coaches will have to make do with what they have.
That is why the expectation for him to make the final in his first season is unreasonable.
Maybe Booi is up to the challenge of taking EP from the depths of last season to being more competitive.
The Eastern Cape region will however never run out of quality players.
What they have needed is quality coaching and with EP having a better semblance of a professional structure compared with their regional neighbours‚ Border‚ the Port Elizabeth-based union have something to work with.
The investment in Booi is important from a transformation perspective.
In SA’s six major rugby franchises‚ only the Southern Kings employ a black head coach, in Deon Davids.
The scenario is the same‚ if not worse‚ among the Currie Cup Premier Division sides‚ with none of the seven teams campaigning there employing a black head coach.
This is the true coaching landscape of South African rugby. Whether there will be change remains to be seen but EP rugby have taken a step in the right direction.
When those fierce winds that are unique to Algoa Bay start to blow‚ they have to stick with their man.