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The TRUE value of 'experience'

OPINION: There is this trend to muster out the more senior members of the rugby community because they are regarded as ‘superfluous’.


The often desperate need for change sometimes overlooks the true value experience can bring.

You will often hear the claim: ‘Your time is up old codger, it is now our turn.’

Now I am all for ameliorating and fine-tuning to have a better product.

But just because a suggestion comes from a ‘graybeard’, it doesn’t mean his ideas are dated or out of sync with modern trends or needs.

We experience it in all aspects of everyday life, but more so in the need for revitalization in the rugby industry.

It was played up again this week when respected Springbok and mahatma Dawie Snyman penned a perspicacious and enlightening column for @rugby365com.


As usual there were those applauding and being appreciative of some of his bodacious suggestions – including ‘yellow cards’ for match officials.

And, on the flip side of the coin, there were those who dismissed his contribution as the ramblings of an out-of-touch oddball.

However, in a subsequent discussion with Dawie Snyman it became very apparent that most of the criticism levelled at his suggestions were the result of subjective critique by people who made no attempt to understand or explore the background of his proposals.

Let me illustrate.


I love nothing more that to sit down for a chat with my colleague Paul Dobson – a decorated and well-respected writer, a man with 50 years of experience in refereeing and rugby.

I learn more from listening to Paul, because of his vast knowledge and background. Because of his wisdom and experiences I become wiser and more informed.

As they say, listening is learning.

It was a similar enlightening experience when Dawie Snyman put some context to his suggestions this week.

* To recap his column, CLICK HERE!

(Continue reading below … )

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I was well aware of Dawie’s achievements as a player. Those are well documented.

However, his proposals were not works of a disgruntled former player. He is still very much involved with the mentoring of present coaches, at various levels.

They were the conception of a seasoned and forethoughtful visionary with heaps of very useful experience in the administration of the game – a person willing to share his contemplations and ideas.

Given that Dawie Snyman served in the administration of the game since the mid 1970s – first at Stellenbosch University and later also at the Western Province Rugby Football Union – he has a lot of insight that could be tapped into.

I am not, for one minute, suggesting he should be hauled back onto some or other executive committee.

However, sitting down and listening to ‘experienced’ former administrators like this could not hurt, especially in relation to the ethical side of the game.

This is the primary factor that should guide the game through time.

We are often far too quick to dismiss people because they are ‘old’.

Lets not forget that Stellenbosch is the biggest ‘club’ in the world – with 1,300 players in its heyday – functioning much like a province or franchise today, with all the various committees and sub-committees.

Making an organisation like that function successfully takes some doing.

Then there is the ‘innovation’ of two referees on the field, which to this day still functions successfully in the Stellenbosch hostel leagues.

So why could it not work elsewhere?

Perhaps, just perhaps, it is – as Dawie said – the attitude adaptation of the vision of those running the game at present.

As that well-documented proverb goes: ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way.’

Maybe if the attitude of players, coaches and referees change, we may not need radical changes to save the game from ruin.

With that in mind, go read Dawie Snyman’s suggestions again.

With the right behaviour and demeanour perhaps the number of disciplinary hearings will decline – just as they did at Stellenbosch University when attitudes and circumstances changed.


* In case you missed it, to read Dawie Snyman’s column, CLICK HERE!

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