Albert van den Berg: 'Why I am really leaving the Lions'
ONE-ON-ONE: “It has absolutely nothing to do with money.”
In that succinct sentence is contained the ‘real’ reason for the departure of Albert van den Berg from Ellis Park.
It is also in stark contrast to the sanitized media release the Lions Rugby Company issued.
“Lions forwards and line-out coach Albert van den Berg has opted not to renew his contract with the Lions Rugby Company,” a media statement said on Wednesday.
Van den Berg joined the Johannesburg-based franchise in September 2021 as the senior team’s forwards mentor.
The 51-times capped Springbok will now continue his coaching career in Europe.
The Lions, in their statement, thanked the 49-year-old for his services during his time in Doornfontein.
“On behalf of our Chairman Altmann Allers and the LRC board, we would like to thank Albert for his contribution to the team over the past two seasons,” LRC CEO Rudolf Straeuli said.
“We wish him and his family all the best as they embark on their next chapter.”
Van den Berg, in a one-on-one interview with @king365ed, was frank about the real reason for his departure – confirming that he will join a team in Europe.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) April 23, 2023
He said there were a few “differences of opinion” over operations and improvements required for the team to move forward in European competitions like the United Rugby Championship and Champions Cup.
He added that too many small issues – that can easily be fixed – were causing too many troubles.
“As the saying goes: ‘Dit is die klein jakkalsies wat die wingerde verniel’. [The small jackals that ruin the vineyard].
“I have another saying: ‘The standards you walk past, are the standards you accept’.
“If we accept those standards, we are already behind the rest,” Alberts said, adding: “They are just basic things that are not up too standard.”
He said he has the utmost respect for the Lions’ brand and was not prepared to accept inferior standards.
“I don’t want to belittle the Lions’ reputation, but it is just the many differences of opinion around the improvements that are required that caused problems for me.”
Van den Berg’s departure follows this past Monday’s washup at their Ellis Park headquarters.
The coaching and playing review came after another season of ‘flattering to deceive’ – ending with a 50 percent success rate, nine wins from 18 starts and ninth place on the standings, three points below the eight-placed Sharks.
However, it was the off-field drama that grabbed most of the headlines – with reports of a disconnect between players and management, as well as threats of a coaching mutiny.
Van den Berg said he was also still awaiting the Lions Company report on his complaint over the conduct of technical analyst Chris Venter.
Van den Berg accused Venter of making copies of private conversations on his work laptop.
He said he was willing to “forgive and move on”, as long as Venter issues a genuine public apology for his conduct.
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