Cape Town - Former Springbok loose forward Jean Deysel agrees with SA Rugby’s new 30-Test eligibility rule for overseas-based players.
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The rule states that only overseas-based Springboks with 30 or more Test caps can be called up to the national team, with the exception being a Rugby World Cup year.
Deysel, who currently plies his trade with Irish club Ulster, only has four Test caps to his name so cannot come into the reckoning for a Springbok call-up.
In an exclusive interview with Sport24, Deysel said the eligibility rule didn’t influence his decision to head abroad earlier this year, but he understood SA Rugby’s rationale behind it.
“I believe the 30-cap rule is a great concept but, to be honest, I didn’t give that a second thought when I made the move across to Ireland. I’m 32 years old and I don’t think the national selectors will look at me because the Boks are building for the next Rugby World Cup with a younger playing group,” the former Sharks enforcer said.
“There will definitely be regrets about not being able to play for the Springboks again because as a South African rugby player you always want to be in the mix and play for your country. However, the 30-cap rule makes sense because young players must be encouraged to ply their trade within South African borders. I truly believe that the national selectors are on the right path, and the majority of the Bok group needs to play together in South Africa in order to harness team cohesion and build a solid culture. For me, it’s about building the team environment and it’s so much easier when everyone is based in the same country and can attend monthly training and team-building camps.”
Picking the odd overseas players could still add value, Deysel believes.
“There will still be value in picking the odd overseas-based player such as Francois Louw. From what I’ve heard, Francois is doing tremendously with the young players in the Springbok squad. The Bath-based loose forward boasts a bucket load of experience, with 53-Test caps under his belt and he has played the oval game in both the northern and southern hemispheres. The experience players like Louw offer is invaluable, but it’s all about finding the right blend of youth and experience and foreign and locally-based players. At the moment, Louw is the only overseas-based player in the Springbok squad, which I believe sends a strong message to South African players: Home-based players will be given first preference in terms of national selection. It’s fair enough because Allister Coetzee needs to work with a group of players on a consistent basis to forge team identity and make the boys understand what it means to be a Springbok, with your boots on and off.”