A breaking news article about a fairly high profile school rugby coach having signed on the dotted line to head up the rugby programme of a rising Cape Town Northern suburbs high school, also brought into play a suggestion that the said coach was set to be the latest in his school aligned profession to earn in excess of R1 million per annum and therefore join an exclusive Millionaires’ Club.
The school in question seemed quite baffled by how this high figure was arrived at while those who work in the industry also thought the one bar pay was disproportionately high in relation to the current market value of coaches at some of the top achieving schools. From there they also questioned the justification of spending on the coach in terms of return on investment and the opportunity costs lost on developing other areas of the rugby programme that required attention.
So the R1m did create an impression that there is an exaggeration being factored in, possibly in line with the whole ego-tripping that become part and parcel of school rugby, particularly when influential parties with deep pockets, outside of the school education staff core, succeed in gaining a stronghold over the direction the school takes in its efforts to be successful on the field of play.
Who knows! The attempts to up the status and market value of a pro style school coach might be that coaching fraternity own initiative. Part of the undeniable make-up of school rugby nowadays is this element of professionalism that exists within what was meant to be an amateur structure. Pro style school coaches and even parties connected to player recruitment need to justify their existence in this model. In many schools it’s still a battleground that they are not winning – competing against teachers who often earn according to regulated pay structures and contribute towards producing many more professionals for the job market isn’t plain sailing. But in those institutions where the pro style coach’s position has been cemented, the next logical step would be to somehow elevate that status so that the pay package can move up to be closer aligned to what a coach who works with pro rugby players on a full-time basis earns. Create the impression that successful schools pay their top guys between 50% and 100% more than they actually do and best case scenario outcome is that there is some sort of buy into the fake news.
The Millionaire’s Club or earning a cost to company package of R1 000 000.00 per annum isn’t a big stretch of the imagination when you break it down. Pay a coach R80 000.00 per month and throw in a 50% year-end bonus and you’re basically there. In this day and age, it is definitely not an outrageous sum of money to be paying someone with specialized skills that could improve that schools ability to generate more income. With inflation the way it is, in a few years from how this sort of sum being forked won’t even raise an eyebrow.
Add to this that a lot of the top rugby high school coaches’ packages are funded entirely or part funded by sources connected to the school, as opposed to being part of the school budget itself, and it is realistic that some high school rugby coaches are earning very well for doing a job that’s very hard to put in 40-hours worth of per week for say 48 weeks of the year. A big part of the reason for the latter is that the players are school students not fulltime pros, so they spend a great deal of their time in the classroom. In addition to this there isn’t that much video material available for coaches to analysis while waiting for practice or training sessions to start. So there is quite a bit of downtime. So when the package gets quantified, this surely has to be factored in.
Being a first team head coach is a pressurized job and there is a lot of hard work that goes into making a success of it. Also most of the time success is measured not by the improvement to performances of individual players or teams but by winning games. Relatively the more money that’s on the table, the more emphasis is placed on winning. Winning matches in schoolboy rugby is however determined far more by the quality of players at a school’s disposal that the inputted ability or dedication of the coach and his support staff. Ultimate a great team with great facilities and a great coach is the recipe for maximized success. Where a choice between the three is the only option, commit the lion’s share of the allocated funds to acquiring great players and making sure there is a great facility to help attract them. Statistically good players in the hands of an average coach will yield much better success returns than a great coach who doesn’t have much talent to work with.
In conclusion, wouldn’t it be great to know who’s really in the Millionaires’ Club for real! If you live in KwaZulu-Natal and have follow schoolboy rugby closely, you would surely have heard about a certain coach at a certain local school who is constantly rumoured to be on a package way in excess of R1m. However in other parts of the country, even at the highest profile schools who are more often than not linked with occupying the top spots in the national rankings, suggesting seem to be that their coaches get paid a lot less than R1m pa and that at best there are hard to achieve incentives built into contracts, that could put certain coaches over the top but only in dream team seasons.