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Coach Loffie: Making a difference

Some interesting books have come across my desk this past year, with one in particular that stood out – because it is so different.

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In the modern era with its orgy of biographies and autobiographies, getting a book that shows the author actually wants to give something back to the game is refreshing.

Eugene Eloff is not the most high-profile coach in South Africa, but when it comes to his passion for the game he is right up there with the best in the world.

And that is why his book – Coach Loffie, tips for winners – is so different to the numerous books I have read and are still reading.Coach Loffie: Making a difference

Yes, there are a few chapters about his life and coaching successes – including how he was stabbed in the back by Jake White while coach of the Lions, along with his victories at the 2003 and 2005 Under-19 world championships.

But the beauty of this book that it is not written to stir controversy. It is all about helping aspiring and established coaches – a manual full of useful hints.

With the input of luminaries such as Charl Carstens, Rozanne Schreiber, Gerhard Jordaan, Ancois Botha, Pierre Viviers and Jannie Botha – all experts in their respective fields – he tackles each and every aspect of coaching in detail.

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From planning, through motivation, building relationships with your players, medical aspects, conditioning, psychology, analysis and even diets, he addresses every aspect of coaching.

Obviously the cynics will ask: 'What has Eugene Eloff achieved that makes this a book of value?'

It is simple. He won two age-group world championships – with the South African Under-19 teams of 2003 and 2005.

And in both tournaments the Baby Boks, or Junior Springboks as some refer to them, beat New Zealand in the Final.

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He taught his young players how to beat their arch rivals New Zealand – an art seemingly lost in the modern era.

Next the cynics will say those were not particularly good New Zealand teams.

Well, those Kiwi teams included noteworthy players like Isaia Toeava, Tanerau Latimer, Tim Bateman, Sekope Kepu, George Whitelock, George Pisi, Dan Bowden, Josh Benkhuis, Dane Coles, Rudy Wulf, Benson-Williams Stanley, Hosea Gear, Liam Messam, Tim Boys, Isaac Ross, Jamie McIntosh  and Nick Crosswell.

And, as we all know, there is no such thing as a 'weak' or 'poor' New Zealand team at any level.

Yet, Eloff's charges managed to beat the Kiwis in world championship finals twice in three years.

And the players he had to work with?Coach Loffie: Making a difference

Notable South African players under Eugene Eloff in 2003 to 2005 included Frans Steyn, Shandré Frolick, Jody Rose, Ricardo Croy, Warren Malgas, Hilton Lobberts, Richardt Strauss, Francois Uys, Pieter Myburgh, Alistair Hargreaves, JC Strauss, JC Janse van Rensburg, Deon Fourie, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Jacobie Adriaanse, Antonie Claassen, Bismarck du Plessis, Schalk Ferreira, Peter Grant, Sangoni Mxoli, Ruaan Pienaar, Earl Rose and Steve Sykes.

Of those only two made it to the 2015 Word Cup for South Africa.

Richardt Strauss has since qualified for and played for Ireland, while Antonie Claassen has feature in a number of Tests for France.

Why so few players lasted long enough to make it to the 2015 World Cup is a debate for another day.

Add in a few other names like Andre Pretorius, Joe van Niekerk, Pierre Spies, Bryan Habana, Cornal Hendricks and Willie le Roux – who in the early stages of their careers were mentored by him – and it is not a surprise Eloff is so highly rated.

What is obvious is that Eugene Eloff knows something about coaching and his book is a valuable read for those who want to learn more about coaching.

And if you still have any doubt. Then read what the players, coached by him, have to say about Eloff's skills as a mentor.

Book: Coach Loffie – tips for winners

Naledi books

ISBN: 978-0-928316-18-6

By Jan de Koning

@King365ed

@rugby365com

Coach Loffie: Making a difference

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