Rugby

Boks consider Grand Slam tour

2009-12-08 22:28
Andy Colquhoun (Gallo Images)
Stephen Nell

Cape Town – Is it a potential opportunity to make history or rugby suicide 10 months before the kick-off of the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand?

That is the question being raised about a possible Grand Slam tour for the Springboks in November next year.

South Africa and Ireland, who are currently considered to be the best team in Europe, have already arranged a fixture on November 6 outside the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) international window.

Apart from that fixture, there are possible Tests against Scotland, Wales and England.

However, the schedule has not yet been confirmed and there is talk that a second match against Wales may replace the match against Scotland.

SA Rugby’s head of communications, Andy Colquhoun, confirmed on Tuesday that a game is being planned against Ireland to open the new Lansdowne Road Stadium.

It will also apparently be a financially rewarding exercise for both rugby unions.

But what price will the Boks pay for a difficult programme and the pressure they will be exposed to 10 months before they defend their world crown?

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers did not want to comment.

“He prefers not to comment now because the Test schedule for 2010 still has to be confirmed and he is not sure whether it will be a Grand Slam tour as there may be two Welsh Tests and no Scottish Test,” said Springbok spokesperson Anthony Mackaiser.

De Villiers did emphasise in a recent press release how important it will be to manage players with an eye to the 2011 World Cup.

“It is very important that we monitor players in training with the long term in mind,” said De Villiers.

“This (2009) was a very long season and it’s clear that the players are mentally and physically fatigued.

“The biggest worry is the cumulative effect of the amount of rugby the Springboks have played over the last three years. As we know, they now run the risk of injuries the following year.

“If we want to get the best out of our players in 2011, we will have to manage their training and playing time carefully in 2010.”

Should the Boks get a Grand Slam tour, it will nevertheless be an opportunity to make history.

South Africa embarked on Grand Slam tours in 1998 and 2004, but have not been able to beat all four mentioned countries on a single tour since returning from isolation.

South Africa last won a Grand Slam in 1960-1961.

Meanwhile, the South African Rugby Union’s interim executive council meets in George tomorrow to decide which stadiums will host the two June Tests against Italy next year.

The Tests cannot be played in major centres because of the Soccer World Cup.

It is believed that Witbank and Potchefstroom are possible venues.

South Africa want to play their other Test in June against France at Newlands, but reports have suggested it may be shifted to Wembley in London.

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