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SA Rugby close off 2008 with positive review

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SA Rugby has completed an “extremely positive” review of the Springbok coaching team, Saru president Oregan Hoskins said Friday.


Head coach Peter de Villiers and assistant coaches Dick Muir and Gary Gold attended interviews this week at SA Rugby’s headquarters in Cape Town.


“I was very impressed by the sessions,” said Hoskins. “Listening to what the coaches had to say, I picked up on a very positive vibe going into next year, which was not always the case when we have performed these reviews in the past.


“By the same token there was a willingness to concede where errors were made and a commitment to address those issues in 2009. It was a very positive session.”


The coaching team was appointed earlier this season and won nine out of 13 Tests, including record victories over Australia (Johannesburg) and England (Twickenham) and a first win in New Zealand since 1998. The Springboks are next in action in the first Test against the British & Irish Lions in Durban on June 20, 2009.


In his review of a busy 2008, Hoskins said it has been another significant and action-packed year, one that ends with Saru able to reflect with satisfaction on many achievements.


“South African rugby players and referees have again excelled around the globe, allowing us to look forward with excitement and anticipation to a momentous 2009 season when the British & Irish Lions will be here for one of their 12-yearly visits.


“Record victories over Australia and England in the final four Test matches of the season, the settled Springbok squad have whetted the appetite.


“The coach and selectors have built on and broadened the World Cup squad with some exciting new talents and some re-energised older ones.


“Rugby’s commitment to underlining the message that ours is a game for all was reflected in the make-up of the Springbok team which regularly featured six black players in the starting XV in 2008.


“Our Springbok Sevens team has also set themselves up for a fascinating 2009 after winning the opening two legs of the IRB Sevens Series to take a handy lead at the top of the log.


“They will travel to the Rugby World Cup finals in Dubai in March as strong contenders to add the sevens title to the 15-a-side title we already hold.


“They will be accompanied by the Springbok women who have also qualified for the finals.

 

“Also on the field the hard work and professionalism shown by our referees has been rewarded as South African officials have established themselves as a prominent force among the world’s elite officials.

They will referee more Six Nations and Super 14 matches than officials from any other single nation next year as testimony to the regard in which they are held internationally.


“Rugby’s ability to excite passions unlike any other South African sport ensured that we also made the front pages more than once in 2008 and – in answering some of those challenges too – we have made positive strides forward.


“The on-going process of simplifying our structures to make us more responsive to the needs of rugby also continued at speed in 2008 as we moved closer to combining the amateur (SARU) and professional (SA Rugby) arms of the organisation back into one entity.


“The state of rugby in the Eastern Cape also remains high on our agenda and, in the New Year, we will be announcing the outcomes of our latest discussions on the most effective route to deliver Super Rugby to the region.


“Our operational departments did much unseen work in coaching, refereeing, high performance, medicine and at club and school level as well as in running a host of national tournaments the pinnacle of which, the Absa Currie Cup, was won by the Sharks at the end of a stirring domestic season.


“The tournament produced a lengthening list of ex

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