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Wednesday, January 18, 2006


General Discussions: Paulse's dilemma highlights question of burn out

Article by Boertjie

Springbok wing Breyton Paulse's possible return to South Africa again highlights the question of player burn out. The seasons keep on growing longer, with more and more matches added – so something will have to give. But this should not be the Currie Cup competition, says Alan Solomons. So what then?

Peter Bills reports that it's to early to say, but it looks likely that Paulse will end his sojourn in France after only one season: in June, which is the earliest date to back out.

Last year Paulse played rugby from January 3 to December 23. He then flew back to Cape Town, spent 10 days at home. Feeling drained and mentally and physically tired, his request for an extra few days off was declined.

"It's fair to say I now understand this question of player burn out," Paulse said. He also played in 2000 and 2001 without missing a game, and was also "very tired" then.

Officially Paulse will only decide his future next month after talks with Springbok coach Jake White.

"I am very aware that I must look after myself carefully if I am to have a chance of making the World Cup squad," he said.

It is not only the amount of rugby that gets to him. Clermont is geographically isolated, very cold and away matches means endless hours travelling by bus.

Paulse's dilemma differs little from that of the other potential members of the Springbok WC squad. This year there is a minimum of 13 Super 14 matches in the enlarged competition, whilst the Tri-Nations have two extra tests added – to be followed by a strenuous Currie Cup competition and the customary end of year tour.

Last year White tried in vain to withdraw his squad from the Currie Cup, and understandably so: The coaches have their contracts on the line and the unions are demanding their pound of flesh. Let it also be said that the players wants to make as much money as possibble – so whilst they may silently complain, they were also all takers for the planned extra test against Italy in December.

Trimming the Currie Cup

is not the answer

Limiting their participation in the Currie Cup may seem like the best way out, but experienced coach and rugby man Alan Solomons warns against this solution.

He regards the withdrawal of some or all of the leading Boks from domestic rugby as an "impending disaster" and says such an act would have serious long-term consequenses for the game in this country.

"Taking out the best players does two things. It immediately reduces the value of that tournament but also minimises the chances of some younger players developing into future Springboks. It is important for international players to be playing with club players to lift the standards overall.

"The gap between provincial rugby and Super 14 will widen, making it largely impossible for most players to make that step-up. The bread and butter of any country's rugby has to be a strong, highly competitive provincial competition."

SA Cricket already

paying the price

One can argue that South African cricket is already paying the price for too much international cricket, which hardly ever sees the stars turn out for their franchises. Three-day matches are played before the proverbial man and his dog, whilst the pajama version is also luring less and less spectators.

Not only that. The competition is of such a low standard that it becomes more and more difficult for players to step up to the next level - as it also becomes hard for selectors to judge the worth of their performances in local cricket.

A solution will have to be found for rugby - but judging by the shenanigans in Saru, this is the last place one can look to.

In the meantime one thing remains certain: the times of many players' careers stretching over 10 or even just seven years are something of a bygone era.

Sources: Sunday Tribune; Cape Argus

good arti and extremely worrying  
I agree that something has to be done to reduce the amount of games the top players play, but definately not at the expense of the CC.

The problem is that its all about money. More tests and S14 games, means more money to the unions and administrators. It has become a business more so than a sport. Maybe they will have to start inforcing player rotation in the CC and S14. Trimming the CC sould not even be an option. What about the players who do not play for the boks or S14 teams. Does it mean that they should end up playing only 5 or 10 games in a season so that the top players can rest. Nobody will ever be able to climb through the ranks if this happens.

Paulse's dilemma was of his own making. He wanted to run after the money and go and play in France. He must either play in SA while running his rib joint, give up SA and only play for money in Europe or stop complaining.

I understand the Boks will NOT be involved in CC action this year. This is a double edged sword in my view.

Yes it does give the Bok players optimum rest and frees JW from the player burnout issue.


It also creates the dilemma that Jake White has nothing against which to measure the performance of fringe players like Willem De Waal, AJ Venter, Marius Joubert, Jongi Nokwe and Derrick Hougaard and Tim Dlulane

I saw Tim Noakes say 28 games is the amount where you can expect optimum performance from a palyer. Why not set a limit that players may only play 28 games per season.

Then give the Boks first choice to list their players for those games, the Super 14 franchises get next pick and then, if there are games left (after all in the S14 you'll see only 13 matches, while in 3N you'll see 6 matches with probbaly two pre 3N matches and 3/4 on the EOYT, leaving the provinces to select players for 5 or so matches at the business end of the CC.
I am sure that the matter will sort itself out eventually. As the provinces and franchises become more and more professional they will realise that the only way to obtain success is to ensure the growth and utilisation of good squad rotation. These provinces invest a lot of money in their players and will realise that they can not afford a "star" being injured for weeks due to player burnout.

Look at English football, American Gridiron etc. These disciplines employ huge squads that they rotate and manage on a continuous basis. My team Liverpool for instance would employ two entirely different teams for two seperate games within one week.

Gone are the days of fifteen stars at a rugby province, but rather 30 or more with good development programmes and player management (including lifestyle management). The Bulls have realised this and this is why they will continue being competitive for a number of years.

I laugh when I see the guys judging their provinces' chances in the S14 (especially into the future) based on the 15 best players in the team.
Tony McKeever

You should try and get this guy. He'd be worth every penny.
Nice arti Boertjie, ditto with PA - worrisome.

Agree we can't cut the CC because same will happen as with the local cricket. Can't cut the tests, we see little enough of the Boks. Dawie's ideas sounds real good actually, but will it work and can it be implemented by the local dofkops?

I say cut down on S14, make it a WC-like tourney. No need for everyone to play everyone, it worked well in S8 & S10, but it's getting too much. On the downside, it is nice though to have rugby to watch every weekend for 3-4 mths and one can argue that the draws will cause disputes.
What do you guys say, can it work?
If you want to talk about American Football, the season is 16 games, with a maximum of 4 playoff games if you make it all the way to the Super Bowl. There are four pre-season games, but most top level players only play one quarter in these games. This is a maximum of 21 games for all players. Then training for the season starts in July with the Super Bowl being played the end of January. That is a full 6 months away from the game. So even if a player plays in every game, he still gets six months to recover fully. The most an International Rugby player seems to get off is about 4 to 6 weeks.

Jim Plunkett played quarterback in a Super Bowl when he was 42 years old. Paulse is only 29 and already the belief is that he is at the end of his career. One can not even compare the two games when the schedules are so vastly different. I suppose that if one would like a longer career for rugby players one would need to completely change the way the schedule is done now. Quite honestly the Super 10/12/14 has done nothing to help and has probably prevented any possibility of having a reasonable rugby season for our players. I honestly have no idea how international rugby players can do this year in and year out.
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