Garrin Lambley

SA Rugby wimp out on overseas Bok policy

2017-03-03 23:30
Garrin Lambley (File)

As South Africa's rugby talent continues to leave these shores at an increasing rate of knots, lured by the riches of the pound / euro / yen, SA Rugby had to act - and act fast - to hold onto the country's brightest stars.

On Friday they took a stance.

At first glance it appeared to be a tough one. In reality, it's feeble.

A decision by the Executive Council of SA Rugby will now see from July 1, 2017 onwards that only overseas-based Springboks with more than 30 Test caps will be eligible for green and gold selection.

"More than 30 Test caps" ... that means 31 plus.

Both that date and number are significant for one player in particular.

The Springboks are due to play a three-Test series against the French, starting on June 10, 2017 (as well as June 17 and 24) - the final three Tests before this new ruling comes into effect.

Marcell Coetzee, when he checks his Wikipedia page, will discover he has 28 Test caps for the Boks.

You do the math.

Coetzee, currently plying his trade for Ulster in Ireland (when not injured), would need Allister Coetzee to pick up the phone and not only select him - but play him - for all three mid-year Tests.

Should that materialise, Coetzee is free to return to Ireland to see out the remainder of his contract, safe in the knowledge he can continue to bank those euros and still be selected for the Boks at any stage.

For the vast majority of SA's Boks, both past and present who are based abroad, Friday's ruling was utterly meaningless.

All of Bryan Habana (124 Tests), Bismarck du Plessis (79), Jannie du Plessis (70), JP Pietersen (70), Frans Steyn (53), Francois Louw (52), Willie le Roux (41), Francois Hougaard (38) and Duane Vermeulen (37) went 'yawn, whatever, delete' when learning of the ruling.

Apart from Coetzee, the only real Bok candidates who may need to give the ruling a second thought and check out property prices in RSA are Cobus Reinach and Steven Kitshoff - both of whom have played 10 Tests to date for the Boks.

In reality, Reinach isn't coming home. He's JUST signed a deal with Northampton in England.

Kitshoff's position is less clear, although best he has a quiet word with Johan Goosen about breaking contracts with French clubs.

But here's the good news chaps!

SA Rugby confirmed that in 2019, the year of the next Rugby World Cup, ANYONE based ANYWHERE in the world with ANY NUMBER of Tests caps will be eligible to board that flight to Japan!

So here's my advice.

Stay where you are for 2017 and 2018 and continue to bank those delightful pound / euro pay cheques for the next two years, because come 2019 - when you still have 10 Tests on your CVs - the Springboks will still be in need of quality scrumhalves and props. Your toughest task will be staying close to your iPhone, it's bound to ring...

And for those youngsters who have yet to be capped, well, there's no guarantee you ever will. You may as well head overseas, grow as a person and player, please your bank manager and in under 22 months you'll be available for national selection...

By way of comparison, only Wallabies playing abroad with 60 Tests to their name are eligible for Michael Cheika's Australian national side.

And what about the All Blacks, the world's undisputed No 1 team? Oh, they don't select any player based abroad, no matter how many Tests they've played.

Ditto for the world's No 2-ranked side, England.

Garrin Lambley is the Sport24 Editor

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    sa rugby  |  springboks  |  garrin lambley  |  rugby


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