- Published on 26 May 2011
The future is uncertain for Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu after he officially parted ways with the South African Rugby Union on Tuesday.
The statement that brought to an end the South African Sevens team’s run with their most successful coach in history was amicable, but behind the scenes things were apparently a lot more tense as Treu’s journey came to an end.
While there have been some overtures made to Treu to stay on in Saru’s structures – either as part of Rassie Erasmus’s mobile coaching unit or as assistant coach to the SA under-20 side – it seems the Sevens coach may continue in the shortened game and join one of the other core IRB Sevens sides after receiving interest from both Kenya and England as a possible replacement for their coaches.
Ironically it seems that Treu’s management style was at the heart of the change, as on performance the team won more IRB Series events than World Champions New Zealand in the last season and, other than Gordon Tietjens, Treu has won more tournaments on the circuit than any other coach.
Added to this there is still a lot of uncertainty as to how the appointment in the interim of Neil Powell and Vuyo Zangqa as joint coaches of the team can work.
While the duo took the team to a gold medal in a weakened World Games in Colombia recently, history has shown that joint appointments are hardly conducive to success at any level, let alone the pressure cooker of Sevens rugby.
Still, either way, there were rumours that Treu was on his way out as far back as February, but the Boks’ inability to get beyond the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Russia sealed his fate.
In the interim, he was linked with the USA job, but that was given to South African-born player Matt Hawkins, while Kenya have reportedly made Treu an offer to replace Mike Friday.
However, the lack of structures and political in-fighting in the Kenyan rugby scene may put Treu off, while England’s recent departure from their coach Ben Ryan has opened up a new possibility.
Treu has always expressed his desire to take a team to the Olympic Games in 2016, but if he does it seems it won’t be with the Bok Sevens team.
Oregan Hoskins confirmed the move and praised Paul in an official statement.
“Paul’s contribution to Sevens rugby in this country over the past decade has been outstanding,” said Hoskins. “He has built the team and the brand of Sevens rugby through his passion and expertise and has made our Springbok team a regular contender for tournament and Series honours. He has established our Sevens programme and made an enormous contribution to the game.
“However, there comes a point where there is a need for renewal and in discussions with Paul and other stakeholders, there was a general sentiment that we had reached that point. Paul has other options, and we also had other roles in mind for him, but it was clear that a natural time had come for all parties to seek a new direction.
“We did discuss other alternatives to retain Paul at Saru but he has an understandable desire to go to the Olympic Games in 2016. We hope to see him working in South African rugby again in due course.”
Treu said: “I have had a wonderful time at Saru and would like to thank the organisation for the opportunity they have given me. We have had some wonderful highs in the past 10 seasons and I hope I have added value to South African rugby.
“This was a decision I had thought long and hard about for some time and those close to me will know that it was something that I had agonised over. But I believed the time was right to move on – both for me and the team – and I wish them all success in the future.”
Treu was appointed as Sevens coach in 2004 after representing the team from 1999 to 2002 at sweeper and later as captain.
As coach he led the team to the IRB World Sevens Series title in 2008/09 and won 14 tournaments on the HSBC Sevens Series circuit. He coached the team in three Sevens Rugby World Cups and took the team to bronze at the Commonwealth Games in India in 2010.
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