Learn to love the game again

Brendon Shields

Watching this video made me realise why rugby union is in such a mess.

Our stadiums are empty and participation in the game is dwindling. A school I am involved with in the Free State has not had a single game at under 16B level played all year because no other schools are able to field a full side!

Off the field, things are just as dire. The New Zealand rugby union announced a big financial loss this year, while on social media we have superstars who would rather tell us why Elton John and Nigel Owens are going to hell than use their platforms to grow the game.

The Twitter video pulls the entire thing back in line. It shows us what rugby can do and what it’s supposed to be about.

The mother who posted the video explains in later tweets that her daughter had been bullied to the point of depression, only to be saved by joining a rugby club and finding real friends in the game.

In the clip, she has the try-line at her mercy but passes the ball to a fellow teammate to score – a great and age-old gesture that shows maturity and respect to her mates.

You see rugby in it’s essence is about friendship, building character and above all, family.

Families do not like going to stadiums where a majority of drunken men still act as though the sport is theirs. I attended the Springboks Test against England at Ellis Park last year and pledged to never attend an international rugby match again until such time that the organisers deal with the myriad of drunken stupids shouting racial abuse.

How can I expose my own boys to this environment?

Families are also not keen on seeing kids play sport in an environment driven by ‘winning’ above all else, where the development of a child’s abilities and character take a back seat to the overall results of a team.

I will rather attend a club under-14 game, or a women’s senior B-team game, because this is where the pure soul of rugby is currently being incubated, hopefully to emerge when the professional and schools game in its current form implodes.

I urge you to do the same. Don’t spend your money buying a Spider-Man replica jersey, or paying R800 to attend a Test match. Rather go to a local club, pay the R10 entry, buy a few hot dogs, chat to people, find a favourite team and start supporting them. Help them raise funds to buy boots for the two kids who cannot afford new ones.

If your school team has become septic with raging dad’s and psycho mom’s shouting as if your son’s under-9 game is akin to the third Test against the British Lions, then sign them up to a club instead where the focus is still on player development and player enjoyment.

Learn to love the game again, because it’s a great one. Teach your kids to love the game again or the sport will soon be dead. This video reminds us why it’s time to return to the roots of what used to make rugby union awesome, and what can again make it so.

Brendon is a rugby analyst and host of the rugbycology101 course that trains young people to become data analysts for their own club and schools teams.

FRESH TAKE is an initiative to identify, feature and develop talented rugby writers who are not yet part of the mainstream media. If that sounds like you, send us a sample of a story you’d like to write to info@alloutrugby.com

- Brendon Shields

Let's chat

  • Barry

    Whilst I fully appreciate the elements of camaraderie-
    Family as you put it – that stand at at the core of the game, I do think you under-state the desire for most players to win! Be it the under 13C team or the National side! I’m not sure I ever played for a team that didn’t want to win!

    The camaraderie is quite simply the glue that sticks teams together and allows the collective to perform well beyond the sum of the parts.

    It is a component that is missing at the moment in our Super Rugby sides. Players are trying so hard to impress for possible National selection, that thoughts for fellow team members Is largely out the door!

    • Wesley

      Its the fun factor that gets lost in all the winning hype. Yeah its fun to win, but first it should be fun to play. Thats what sport has started out as after all. Im still convinced that what the Lions did under Ackerman was exactly that, they had fun after getting kicked around for many years and then just said screw it, lets have fun, and that built the character. You could have seen it in the interviews before and after the game and how Ackerman many times talked about his players enjoying it. Its when a team and the supporters stops having fun when things go south. The fun factor could be lost to the Lions for now, and perhaps the stresses are showing through their coach. The hype of a team expected to win could ruin you. Its creeped in many times into many good teams on a winning streak. Ireland come to mind these last few, NZ to an extent but they snap out of it pretty quickly and effectively. Bulls after rampant late 2000s slowly falling off the deep end up until now snapping back. Many examples to use. And as supporters we should be aware of these pitfalls too.

  • John Comyn

    Just in – Whitely has been withdrawn from the side with an injury.

    • SweetAz

      LOL,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
      Cheers.

      • Wesley

        Only my grandmother adds LOL to her texts, all the while thinking it means “lots of love”.

        Is this what you meaning Sweet, sending “LOL” to Whiteley to recover quickly from his injury?

        • SweetAz

          Apparently its the only thing Lions supporters understand so I add it in so they have something to read,–this forum doesn’t allow me to post pictures. I’ve been telling you lot for the past year the WW is crocked but you all think he walks on water, so LOL means Lot Of Lotion to salve your poor wounded feelings.

          Also, it’s mandatory for all posts aimed at you and all the other snowflakes. It’s an emo thing.

          • Wesley

            Why should i run off? You attempting to censor me? How dare you! ;) hahhaa

          • SweetAz

            lol, I’m not the one getting triggered, now run off home, I think the JDL are missing you at Shabbat

          • Wesley

            There it is again, typical bot response. Didnt know bots could get “triggered” though… Whahaha

          • SweetAz

            Ag shame you poor ANTIFA stooge.

          • Wesley

            Im convinced now you must be some right-wing youtube video caption bot, constantly using words like “LOL, snowflake, emo, triggered” etc. Carry on then.

        • Herman Schroder?

          No it’s the Stormers results pattern, Lose, Outclassed, Lose, recurring. lol. Cheers.

  • Wesley

    Brandon, you have to look no further than this comment thread or people’s reaction on Twitter and the like to see how angry and bitter they are, although in many facets of their lives they are very much better off than what we have had a 100 years ago when rugby was attended by thousands and where the atmosphere was jovial and courteous. Even with the brutality of the years past, at least they knew how to have fun without it getting out of hand. The racial and hooligan abuse in soccer is already at peak levels (has been for years) but now overflowing to other spheres of society as well with social media spreading it across the landscape interlaced with hatred for “others” in a politically volatile situation. Its become a political / factions battleground and frustrations you cannot bring out in ordinary society bubbles over when things get frantic and boozefilled in crowds. Should we ban alcohol at these events? Not in my opinion, but the fight for calm and civil nature is not only in the stands where it boils over, its talking against the hate and undeserved frustrations outside the stadiums and sports fields as well.

    • Wesley

      Sorry, Brendon, typo on your name there in my post…

  • Chris Mouton

    Great article, Brendon! You hit the nail on the head.

  • Dean Bright

    Next year the results will be even worse with the mass exodus of players. Losing the likes of Lood, Pollard, Jantjies, Marx and so many more possible one’s. We are talking about losing half of our top players to overseas clubs from an already diluted bunch. SA rugby will be at risk of becoming a second tier rugby nation, if they aren’t already. Wales, Ireland, New Zealand and England have already surpassed us. We may find ourselves even further behind. The way rugby is structured in SA and with all the debt and maladministration, nothing will change. It won’t improve unfortunately. Tough times lie ahead.

    • Barry

      I agree with you Dean, I posted something similar before the end of year tour. It was at a time when form players from SR and CurrieCup were being overlooked for National selection in preference for what seemed to be buddy and Provincial choices.

      The problem is that these fringe players, realized that they were not in Erasmus’s plans and consequently signed with overseas clubs. So we are not just looking at the loss of first tier players but also the next level!

      Come 2020, our newly appointed coach will be working with third choice players predominantly. Add to this, the incredible loss of IP and continuity, just doesn’t leave us in a strong position!

      • SweetAz

        The thing is Barry, it doesn’t really matter who the coach chooses, I know you have your favourites as does your brother from a different mother BUT no matter who he chooses will be lured away IF THEY ARE ANY GOOD. The economic and political realities of SA are not changing any time soon and any player worth big money is going to cut and run, market forces will ensure only second and third rate people get to play for the Boks. Selecting from overseas will make no difference, the player loads will not be managed and combinations take time to gel.
        You only have to look at the post RWC exodus looming to know that Dean is right, there really is nothing Rassie can do that will change it, even if he selects the whole Sharks/Lions team I guarantee most of them will be off overseas after one season building their own “brand” with the Boks.
        That is why I find it so hilarious that people really believe they can view South African rugby in isolation whilst they live in denial at the desolation unfolding all around them.

        • Barry

          If you read my post , you’ll note that I agreed with Dean – opening sentence!

          It is every kids dream to play for the Springboks, if they’re included in the mix or in the outskirts, they’ll hang around for a few seasons, but if they’re shunned, well they simply take the next best option, which is a lucrative overseas contract!

          Erasmus screwed up with his EOYT selection. He had the opportunity to include a few “form players”, but went the buddy route, or what ever the motivator was. Those players are now lost!

          I not sure who the coach will be in 2020, but he’s not going to inherit much IP!

          • SweetAz

            I didn’t disagree with you or Dean, -please show me where I did that. I merely posited that the reason for it has nothing to do with selection, the Bok squad can only be so big and there will always be disappointed players. There is an old saying that is still valid, “Form is temporary, class is permanent”

            Rassie gave most of your so-called “form” players a chance for a breakthrough performance in that Wales game and almost without exception they disappointed. 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit (captain), 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Ox Nche

            Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Robert du Preez, 23 Warrick Gelant

    • Wesley

      Thats pretty pessimistic Dean, players moving overseas doesnt neccesarily mean weaker Bok team, the coach could choose whoever he wants, the 30 cap rule has been scrapped. As long as big talent shines through, im sure we will be okay. This pessimistic trumpeting has gone on since 1996, and STILL hasnt come to full fruitation as what others have you believing. In fact we have done pretty good overall, and we cant beat everyone all the time. And we dont need 800 contracted players to be competitive. The pool is shrinking yes but we just have to deal with the economic reality. And being a 2nd tier team is also unfounded. Show me a 2nd tier team that could beat England in a home series, beat the ABs in NZ and push them to the end in Pretoria, beat France in France, push England to the end at Twickenham etc. Yes we are behind them and not the best we should be, losing some terrible games as well, but it has also happened in early 2000s and we got up again. I think some optimistic perspective interlaced with fair criticism is warranted. It seems supporters have a very short memory span. Too much emphisis on the world ranking system. We are closer than what the rankings can show. Its gonna be tough yes, but we have been here before. The maladministration is a problem i would agree yes.

      • SweetAz

        LOL, the country is about to implode and you see an upwards trajectory. You need to send me some of those pills you are taking.

        • Wesley

          Who said anything about the country? I was talking rugby. Yoh. Must be a bot….

          • Wesley

            Look, im with you Dean, it isnt great, im very aware. But tier 2? No. Simple question. Would you ever have considered any of the Home Nations second tier? Some of them have also languished at 8, 7, 6 on ranking in the past. No one has a crystal ball. Im vouching for us to get back up there.

          • Dean Bright

            This is the only workable solution for SA rugby. They should also be trying to bring back their coaches after 3-5 years overseas to bring all that IP back.

            https://www.alloutrugby.com/turn-rugby-exodus-revenue/

          • Dean Bright

            Consider it the reality. We have been in 5th/6th place and even dropped to as low as 7th. We used to be a top 3 rugby nation on a consistent basis. We haven’t won any trophies since 2009. That’s 10 years ago. We have lost to Italy, Argentina and Japan. Add in the record losses to NZ, Wales and Ireland. Unthinkable when you consider historically, we have been one of the strongest rugby nations in the World. We were at our strongest when our local sides were winning ie. 07 and 09. It’s no secret that picking too many overseas players hinders continuity and preparation for Test matches. The player workload will also be too much and there will be more injuries and fatigue, while we have players with dual contracts in Japan/Europe and in SA. The reason why Ireland and Wales are so strong now is because rugby in their OWN country is strong.

            The ranking system measures a team’s progress over the course of every season. Winning a World Cup is not success if all the years in between are a failure. Ranking system or not, we had a 50% win ratio last year and a 44% one under AC for 2 years. Our record vs NZ since 2010 is 3 wins out of 19 matches. Would be interesting to see what the record for SA franchises in Super Rugby is. It’s probably quite shocking. 19 matches vs Australia – 7 wins, 8 losses and 2 draws. Do we consider ourselves a stronger rugby nation?

            I want to be positive for SA rugby but the facts are hard to ignore.

  • study@study.COM

    A typical Snowflake article, this kid need to study human psychology/behavior before writing rubbish

    • Wesley

      Yeah um “study@study.COM”. You setting up your buddy Sweet for a response there…. Beep boob beep. 000010100001001010100100101011110. Bet you can undertand what im saying right?

      • SweetAz

        Your comment was the normal gibberish, as we engineers well know, its all GIGO with you people. 01000111 01101111 00100000 01000110 01110101 01100011 01101011 00100000 01011001 01101111 01110101 01110010 01110011 01100101 01101100 01100110
        Now that is more appropriate to you.

    • SweetAz

      Yep, so many of them I fear for the future of mankind. Gender confused, emotionally distressed, perpetually brainwashed and cognitively challenged.

  • Wesley

    Another bot response… Must be, no way an article like this could be misconstrude on “gender confusion”, but there it is. Think AOR is to update their bot prevention software.

    • SweetAz

      It’s not the article you fool, the only gender fluid person around here, is you. Typical lefty commie, as soon as you don’t like what someone else has to say you call for censorship.

      • Wesley

        Again who said censorship? Im enjoying this. Ask for your turn to use the collective 2 braincells at the white right rally before posting…

        • SweetAz

          Yeah well, you will never know as they only allow white people in. And so far every one of Siener’s predictions true, Lions lose, Sharks win, Stormers win,–now just the Jags to beat Brums for a full house.
          Nostradapoes must be pulling his hair out.

          • SweetAz

            Of course not, you are one of the ostriches with your head in the sand going lalalalalalala. Hopefully, future societies have enough sense to sterilize your kind at birth.

          • Wesley

            Nope you right i will never know, not that i would want to try anyway. I can only see what comes out of those things, and the evidence is clear here.

  • Nick

    ‘Sieners pedictions’….. this sweetaz oke that satarises your typical block headed right wing bigot you find under rocks and in sewers and nowadays even outside of SA’s borders has me falling down laughing! Love the way they paraphrase current pseudo intellectual terminology as found on various You tube sites that cater to the market for stupid people’s idea of what intelligent people think! This satire is spot on! The main duffus’s supporting cast of half witted opinionistas are not bad for a laugh either! Some times they even sort of argue! Well done for encouraging their particular form of self ridiculing humour Wesley! You couldn’t make this up!

    Its pushing the envelope though don’t you think? When they went begging for a new country to live in I do hope they didn’t let their new countrymen and masters know about their ‘humour and ideas of free speech! It may have made their integration process a little different. Civilized people don’t really take to that kind of ‘humour do they?

    I admire your patience Wesley! Keep them typing their ideas down for us all to see!

    • Wesley

      Haha thanks Nick. Look, i get that these types can cause violence and uncivilized outcomes if you dont put some limits to what could be said in words, but i prefer these to be given their “platform” to show how stupid they are. It opens them up to mockery which i enjoy, and see there is some here who enjoy it too. Its all just “banter” as they put it hey. But think their banter needs some practice though. Still cant tell jokes without being vitriolic which is kinda lazy. I mean “nostradapoes” must be the laziest and flatminded portmanteau i have possibly laid my eyes on. Must be cringey to to sit in these guys company.

      • SweetAz

        Your problem is that you are really just too stupid to be attempting jokes, I have yet to read a funny comment from you. Like most leftist scum, your bread and butter goto is the “passive-aggressive” route. Your obvious lack of testicular fortitude does not permit you to stand up like a man, it’s always got to be the “backdoor” with your type.
        It almost always starts with an attack by you and your useful idiot fellow traveller,- like your entire inane “bot” “joke” which then ends in your poor hurt little feelings when I retaliate. Invariably you, him or it then starts running around in circles bleating about how offended you are calling for “protection for yourselves” from somebody who will take care of the bad, coarse, uncouth, racist, nazi, rightwing etc etc etc.

        Its really pathetic, so grow a pair and a brain to go with it.

    • SweetAz

      Get a spell and grammar checker to help you out, your obvious lack of education makes it very difficult to understand what you are trying to convey.

    • SweetAz

      Typical loser comment from you, I predicted the result of every single game, so Nostradoos, how did you fare? Aren’t you tired yet of being shown up for the ignoramus you are?
      You are so confused you wouldn’t recognize anti-semitic sentiment if it crawled out of your putrid foreskin.

    • Barry

      This is a rugby site, so take your political squabbling somewhere else!!!!

    • SweetAz

      01001010 01101111 01110101 00100000 01001101 01100001 00100000 01110011 01100101 00100000 01010000 01101111 01100101 01110011

      • Max

        I see your replies are all in a 8bits.Time for an upgrade. We all running at 64bits. LOL. By the way my 16th year old son likes the old rugby games. He says the older games are faster and more excited as the modern game.

      • Herman Schroder?

        Not so SweetAss. Is that your heartbeat ? Suggest you go see a specialists we wouldn’t want anything to happen to you. Your coarse, insulting, racial, anti semitic, low class vitriol from a country far far away keeps us entertained, unfortunately not in a good way. Personal enough for you ?

        Oh and about the Lions, no one apart from the Crusaders and Hurricanes has won more games than them after 10 rounds, three of them admittedly after 9 games. The three pretenders still have to play the Crusaders ( chalk that up as a loss each ) and the Lions ( revenge is sweet ) in return matches, so no pressure on the cubs as yet. Glass half full. Cheers.

        • SweetAz

          See above and figure it out, I doubt you have the capability, but who knows. Wonders never cease.

  • Max

    “Off the field, things are just as dire. The New Zealand rugby union announced a big financial loss this year, while on social media we have superstars who would rather tell us why Elton John and Nigel Owens are going to hell than use their platforms to grow the game.” Se dit vir die mense wat geld uit die game maak. Rugby players are the game and they bring in the money. The people in charge are using rugby as a business. Where there is business, then someone is being overcharge. I will rather pay a channel, braai and drink as much as I want and, the cherry on top, watch all the games at home and still save money.

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