The Springboks ICARE Culture is Making a Difference

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Tendai Mtawarira of South Africa celebrates winning a penalty during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the South African Springboks at QBE Stadium on September 16, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The Springboks ICARE culture may be relatively new and unknown to the general public, but it is clear that there has been a new vibe around the team during 2017.

The Springboks ICARE Culture is Making a Difference

Fans cannot get carried away after the results the Springboks have delivered this year:

  • a three-to-nil white wash of a French team of ‘questionable quality’ in June.
  • two draws against a Wallabies team also struggling to rebuild their own reputation.
  • two wins over an under-performing Argentinian team.
  • an ‘almighty hiding’ against All Blacks in Albany and a very respectable performance in losing against the same All Black team, two weeks later in Cape Town.

Declaring the class of 2017 as ‘the saviours of Springbok rugby pride’ would be premature. However, the way they are trying to play the game, the improved attitude and obvious joy of being in the green and gold jersey is obvious for all to see.

The Springboks ICARE Culture is Making a Difference

A lot has been said of the All Blacks team culture, but not enough has been said about the developing team culture within the Springbok squad.

During the media event where the Land Rover sponsorship of the Springboks, injured captain, Warren Whiteley, alluded to the fact that the team had been working on instilling a new team culture. Other senior players present, such as Beast Mtawarira, Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi are part of the core group responsible for the enforcement of the new team culture.

Lessons Learned from the Best

The old adage of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ is very relevant here. The Springboks have acknowledged that a positive team culture is crucial and have taken a leaf out of the All Blacks book of success. Humility is at the very core of the team’s culture, as is the understanding that no excuses for poor performance will be accepted.

The World Champions take humility a step further, with their ‘no dickheads’ policy. If a player regards himself as more important than the the rest of the squad, he will be find himself dropped from the squad pretty fast.

What Does ICARE Acronym Stand For?

Everyone will have their own interpretation for each word that forms part of the acronym, but the overall meaning and intent of using these words is pretty clear and indicates the direction this team is taking.

ICARE in itself has a meaning that is accepted by the team. Believing in the new team culture means that they do care. Care about their performances, the privilege of wearing the jersey and the responsibility of representing their country.

It might appear to be a very small thing, but one of the standout examples of the Springboks ICARE culture was on display after their Test match against Argentina in Port Elizabeth. After the television cameras had been turned off, Springbok players, lead by new international sensation Malcolm Marx, were seen picking up the garbage left behind by the Argentinian reserve bench.

That showed no-one is above doing menial chores. And it shows a respect for themselves.

Below we have deconstructed the acronym, with the generally accepted meanings of each word as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary.


Being honest and having strong moral principles. Not much more really needs to be said, but behaving with integrity earns the respect of spectators, sponsors and broadcasters.


Being dedicated to a cause or activity. During their really poor 2016 season, player commitment was always brought into question. It might not be working out as planned at the moment, but the level of commitment in 2017 is visibly a world apart from last year’s effort.


Being accountable or taking responsibility. Each and every person in the Springboks setup has to be accountable for everything they do. No blaming coaches or referees.


Having due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others. Being respectful of other players, teams, spectators and the like breeds confidence in the team and players. Arrogance would not be accepted in this type of team culture.


Being outstanding or extremely good. After the calamity of the Springboks 2016 season, excellence in everything they do has to be their mantra in order to ensure they win back the respect of the rugby public.

It is worth repeating that Springboks ICARE team culture is very new. Instilling a strong team culture that breeds success does not take just a few months. It takes a few years. The results may not be there. Yet.

It is a great start though, and South African rugby supporters will hope that this team culture remains in place and is nurtured for the foreseeable future and becomes the foundation of future success.


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