Original Research

Leadership challenges experienced by elite South African rugby coaches

Kobus du Plooy, Pieter Kruger, Jan Visagie
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 46 | a1811 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v46i0.1811 | © 2020 Kobus du Plooy, Pieter Kruger, Jan Visagie | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 June 2020 | Published: 18 December 2020

About the author(s)

Kobus du Plooy, Community Psychosocial Research (COMPRES), Faculty of Health Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Pieter Kruger, Centre for Health & Human Performance, Faculty of Health Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Jan Visagie, School of Industrial Psychology & Human Resource Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: As the leaders of teams that compete at the highest level, elite South African rugby coaches face constant pressures to consistently lead their teams to successful on-field performances. An understanding of the leadership challenges they face may highlight actions that could equip them to achieve this more effectively.

Research purpose: To investigate the leadership challenges experienced by the head coaches of elite South African rugby teams that compete on an international level.

Motivation for the study: The leadership challenges faced by elite South African coaches could become clearly known only through investigation, and subsequently they could be properly addressed.

Research approach/design and method: A qualitative approach with a phenomenological design was utilised, which collected data by means of in-depth interviews with the head coaches of elite South African rugby teams. Eleven teams were considered to be elite South African rugby teams for this study given that they competed on an international level. Ultimately, six participants were included, representing 54.5% of the total population. The general systems theory was also used as a theoretical basis to present findings.

Main findings: The data revealed three main themes, namely environmental, relationships and personal leadership challenges. The data revealed that these coaches experience significant leadership challenges, some of which are unique to the South African context.

Practical/managerial implications: It is believed that the implementation of suggested recommendations will assist in ensuring both the economic survival and overall leadership improvement of coaches and the teams they lead.

Contribution/value add: Theoretically the study added to the limited literature on leadership in elite South African sport and practically it provided recommendations to address the findings as well as for further research.


Keywords

leadership; challenges; rugby; coaches; elite sport; elite rugby coaches; South African rugby; general systems theory; phenomenology.

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