Div defends Bok selections

2009-11-11 11:42

Johannesburg - Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has defended a decision to take his jaded stars on a three-Test tour of Europe that starts on Friday against France in Toulouse.

Some South African medical experts believe the world and Tri-Nations champions are playing with fire by including veterans like skipper John Smit and locks Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha, and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez.

Apart from three Tests against the British and Irish Lions and six against Australia and New Zealand, top players were involved in the Super 14 and Currie Cup competitions during a gruelling season that began last February.

"I did talk to a few players about staying at home but they wanted to be part of the Springbok 'family'. We are the number one side in the world and want to stay there," De Villiers told the South African media.

He slammed provinces who give Boks little rest and then complain when they were called up by the two-time world champions for the traditional end-of-season Europe tour.

"We cannot play them into the ground at national level and rest them when internationals come round. It should be the other way with a plan to rest them at national level."

Renowned Cape Town-based sports scientist Tim Noakes has warned De Villiers that a great 2009 season for the green and gold has taken its toll, especially on senior forwards like Smit, Matfield and 'enforcer' Botha.

"It was clear in the Currie Cup semi-finals last month that the Springboks were tired and pacing themselves. Some of them should have been left at home," stressed Noakes.

"A deal should be made with the Super 14 coaches that these guys only participate in the series after the fourth round because they require an eight-week break."

South Africa have already suffered one shock with the 'dirt trackers' losing 22-17 last Friday to a virtual second-strong Leicester Tigers team at Welford Road in the English midlands.

And the cost was high with the entire run-on front row of hooker-cum-captain Chiliboy Ralepelle and props Gurthro Steenkamp and Jannie du Plessis ruled out of the remaining four fixtures through injury.

South African rugby columnists are also nervous with the headline "Bok tour to Europe has ambush written all over it" atop an article by leading writer Clinton van der Berg.

"The French have produced some scary performances in the European Cup of late, while playing in Toulouse on a cold, windy Friday evening will hold little appeal for the Boks.

"Italy will provide a gentle enough buffer before the Test against Ireland, which also holds potential terrors. With some of the Springboks looking jaded, an icy tour could be in prospect," warned Van der Berg.

After Toulouse there are Tests against Italy in Udine on November 21 and Ireland in Dublin a week later plus a second outing for the 'dirt trackers' against English Premiership outfit Saracens on November 17 in London.


  • Lee - 2009-11-11 12:13

    He only takes those players cause without them he will be found out against strong opposition. His so-called non AA or political selections are not up to task of international rugby, I have never seen worse players than Ndungane, Maku & Rose in International rugby. I'm sorry or not sorry actually to say that this team is riddled with political selections and until the day we actually hold our heads up high and choose the best team with players chosen on form and merit, then no one in world rugby will even come close to us....then we don't have to worry about cold, winter nights in Toulousse. P.s This includes John Smit as i feel he is a very good captain, but there are much better props playing Currie cup.

  • Zoo - 2009-11-11 12:21

    This is where SARPA are noticeable by their silence. Why is there not a mandatory 12-week break for each and every player each calendar year? The break can happen using December until mid-Mrach for the top-rank players. What the heck do SARPA do if they are not looking after the playing demands on their members?? And of course the players want to play, that's why you need a doctor to sign them off for rest, even if its against their will.

  • Madoda - 2009-11-11 12:21

    Do these players play all Tri-Nations,S14 and CC at the same time? No! In Fact some of them are rested when they get back from the Tri-Nations before resuming with the CC. Many of them complain when they don't get game time when they get back home. Also who wants to lose? Both PDIV and the Provincial coaches want to win all the time,therefore field your best team always. Bakkies cannot complain about fatigue,with so much rest he enjoys on the sin bin,he needs more game time instead.

  • mark - 2009-11-11 12:32

    I disagree. Look at Australia and New Zealand. They are playing with their regular players and they both won over the weekend. Why are the South Africans so much "weaker" and "tired" than the Aus and NZ players?

  • Nick Armstrong - 2009-11-11 12:35

    A message for PdV. It's not so much about a break in the season (although the odd 2/3 week break is also vital) - but - MOST IMPORTANTLY - as Prof Noakes, ad nauseum, has been trying to get the SARU brains trust (there's an oxymoron for you) to understand - IT'S ABOUT 8 to 10 WEEKS CONSISTENT REST. For physical AND mental recuperation and re-charge. Here's my pack, and bench, leaving all the Tri-Nations regulars at home to rest: Wian du Preez; Adriaan Strauss (capt); CJ vd Linde; Danie Rossouw; Andries Bekker; Deon Stegmann; Schalk Burger; Ryan Kankowksi. Bench: Tiaan Liebenberg; BJ Botha; David de Villiers; Dewaldt Potgieter. Heinke vd Merwe is our best, and strongest, loose-head - however - he's played no rugby in 7 months - and should be making his come-back in the S14. Not fair on him, or others, to rush him straight back into a Bok team. Ruan Pienaar at 9 in place of Fourie du Preez - and any of Jano Vermaak; Sarel Pretorius or Rory Kockott on the bench (even Michael Claasens - playing brilliant rugby in Europe at the moment). Lionel Mapoe in for Bryan Habana - who also needs a crucial rest. That's a fantastic pack - and with the players chosen in the backline (missing Jean de Villiers and Frans Steyn) - a team to win all 3 Tests. And the Tri-Nations Boks get a crucial rest, while these players gain more crucial Test match experience... Win-win-win. Alas - it's rocket science to SARU and the coach...

  • Realist - 2009-11-11 12:38

    He can take the "real" second team there, then there would be no problem resting the senior players.

  • commmon_sense - 2009-11-11 12:40

    they are employees. they get paid to do a job (play rugby). so just do your job. they get leave (days off, playing golf, surfing etc etc). most of SA only get 21-24 days leave per year. so i dont see any grounds for "resting". i should tell my boss i want to rest unitll February .....

  • Kuppy - 2009-11-11 12:45

    It is sad that the established players will have play there socks off to carry the political appointments and Pvd's favourites i will not even name them everyone knows who they are. Pvd got a big head from winning the tri-nations now he thinks he can walk on water, he is in for a mighty fall.

  • Adams - 2009-11-11 12:47

    Surprisingly I agree with the coach, why should Springbok rugby be weakened because the franchises keep playing players. The front row that went home injured were all sitting in the bench at their provinces anyway, so bang goes that idea. Lets not forget, a 8 week layoff , then leads to a lack of game time and probably another 3 weeks till the player is back to their best, nearly 3 months! So no, they get paid extremely well to play, and thats whats they must do, because Im sure they happy to play and take the cash!

  • Coach - 2009-11-11 12:56

    I say he is right.... they will rest next year before the world cup!!!

  • D the M - 2009-11-11 12:59

    @mark - its because our training standards are so inferior to that of the aussies and NZers...we do WAY too much physical training, to the extent that our players are jaded before they are even arrive for the match...and this is exacerbated by our bizarre need to start s14 training over 2 months before it starts...and then have reserve players play in the vidacom cup...and then start the currie cup...There was a study last year (might even have been by Noakes) where they found the aussies do 35% less stamina training than us, yet always look fresher on the field at the end of a match...and they don't have a currie cup/npc equivalent, which means they play anything up to 10 games less than our players a surprise really that a back like mortlock can still be picked for aus when our 32yr old centres have already retired...

  • Rugga - 2009-11-11 13:05

    Poor PdV!! Will he ever do anything right in our critical South African minds! When the Springbok squad was announced none of these remarks were uttered. Everybody was fairly satisfied - yes, it could always be better. Never has a coach selected a team to 100% satisfaction of the ten thousands of coaches in our country. Can you imagine if the regular players were left at 'home to rest' and we lose, what then. PdW would be crucified when he returns. Bottom line is: The players are professional and should decide for themselves when to play or when to rest. Not an academic that has never touched a rugby ball!

  • Capetonian - 2009-11-11 13:14

    I honestly do think Div knows that his players are tired and i must agree that it should have been up to the national teams to rest the players. However, how can provinces be expected to rest players that they are paying lots of money to have, not to play. Prof Noakes is correct. Our Bok players need to be contracted to SARU so that the Bok camp has the control over their management and not the provinces. The current situation is unfair towards the players themselves, the provinces and in the end us the supporters. Take the Boks out of the provinces, and you can have a permanent base of operations for all the the 7's have.

  • D the M - 2009-11-11 13:14

    @common_sense: maybe you should display a little yourself - there isn't an athlete in the world who can play week in week out, your body is simply not designed to copy with the constant stress on it - there is no recover time. And the higher the standard for the sport the higher the required recovery time. Think for a moment how it would feel to be tackled by say ma'a nonu a dozen times in 80 minutes...your body can only recovers so much, and (rugby training especially, where there is going to be contact of some sort) weekly training does not give your body a break to do its job properly. Your brain (well, most peoples) is however designed to be used every day, hence why we're the dominant species, and we can go to work everyday...and not have to worry about playing on a saturday, and training on a sunday...

  • emanuele - 2009-11-11 13:14

    Resting players would not be a problem if the right selections had been made from last year. We need to unearth new talent rather than make up the numbers with quota players and players being played out of position. We have more than enough talent to replace our WC heroes. They need to be given the game time before the 2011 WC. We are facing a potential front row crisis in the team as there has been no investment in finding genuine good replacements for Smit and Co. That and us losing world class backline players like DV and replacing them with inferior quality players leaves us in a predicament. SA rugby take heed. Plan for the future or face a crisis in 2010.

  • Terry - 2009-11-11 13:15

    That's why we should have dug our heels in and said a flat "NO" to the aussies demand to increase the S14 to a 15 team competition - instead we should have taken it back to S12 with 4 teams from each country. The season should be planned around an 8-12 week break in Dec-Feb - then you will be getting the best from the players.

  • Herb - 2009-11-11 13:17

    Jaded? World Champions, Tri Nations Champions, Jaded? I dont think so. Tired maybe, but not jaded... and they need to play these three tests. There's nothing till June\July after this.

  • Megabull - 2009-11-11 13:26

    The whole world see right thru it.

  • Enough Said - 2009-11-11 13:31

    If Divvie chose a better dirt track team, he would not have all this nonsense. Especially since he shined in his absence in England before the game. Dick Muir is not such a great coach and to leave it to him to prepare the second stringers was stupid at best. About the provinces and franchises, there will always be the excuse of the stars draw crowd and in the end money. So it is not really about the coaches or the players but the bean counters. The joke is that these experts are silly enough to think that they can speak on behalf of the players that is as passionate about the game, their province, franchise and country as we all are and will not miss it for the world. If you played rugby you would understand. So rather speak to the players than the coach and not justify poor performance on "expert" warnings. It is rubbish

  • Ruggerman - 2009-11-11 13:40

    I am inclined to agree with Rugga. Poor Div is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Imagine the ructions if a '2nd rate' team was taken to rest the oldies and blood the newbies....who wants to be a rugby coach with all these critics. Clearly SARU has to guard against burning the players out - as their employer it is their responsiblity and Div has to take his cue from them. what is more important Springbok stats or provincial franchise stats...?

  • COCO - 2009-11-11 13:42

    Easy solution - cancel the end-of-year outgoing tours! How can you expect the franchises to rest players in the S14 season??!! It is a commercial enterprise and they play with that in mind.

  • Karel - 2009-11-11 13:45

    First i would like to thank Chiliboy for making me R500 richer for faking a injury and returning home. Secondly the whole country sees what really should have been sent to Europe. If that was the case then the loss to the Tigers would have been so depressing. What makes it the worst is that the Bulls No1 hooker stays behind and the No2 & 3 went with the boks.

  • Nick Armstrong - 2009-11-11 13:48

    @ Rugga. Prof Noakes is not an "academic" - he is one of the world's leading sports scientists - he knows what he's talking about. Did you not watch the Currie Cup semi-finals?? See the Free State front-row pulverise the current Bok front-row?? And then also dominate the Blue Bulls' front-row?? A so-called "2nd team" of players on the fringe (and in many cases - should be first choice anyway) - who are not as fatigued, who did not play in all the Tri-Nations and Lions Tests - would do a far stronger job - than a 'first choice' unit - clearly fatigued. To play as our Boks have played this year requires physical AND mental 'supremacy' - a focus, a peak - of the team's individual and collective prowess. This cannot be sustained month after month - year after year. Any coach worth his salt will tell you - it's about managing the player, the team - and when to 'peak' and when to 'off-peak'... and he whom does it best - ultimately wins. To those who say "play them" and don't see the need for consistent rest - do not - and I repeat - DO NOT cry or look on "how did this happen" when our star players - key to RWC 2011 success - break down with injury or 'mysterious' loss of form...... Also - cancel your 3 week Christmas holiday - you sit behind a desk - what do you need a break for...??? Just as we enjoy a long weekend or 3 during the year - we all need a 3/4 week holiday at the end of a year - to rest, re-charge and recuperate... So - the odd break during a season - is a rugby player's "long weekend" - and an 8 week rest - is their 3/4 week "Christmas Holiday"... Then again - I don't expect all to understand the science of body and mind rest...

  • Megabull - 2009-11-11 14:01

    My "B" Bok team 15. Hennie (FS) 14. Mapo(FS) 13. Bosman(FS) 12. De Jongh(WP) 11. Van Heerden(Bulls) 10. JLP (FS) 9. Hougaard(Bulls) 8. Alberts(Lions) 7. Potgieter(Bulls) 6. Steggies(Bulls) 5. Sykes(KZN) 4. Danie(Bulls) 3. Nel(FS) 2. Strauss(FS) 1. Du Preez(FS) Bench 16. Kuun (Bulls) 17.J. Du Plessis(KZN) 18. Bekker(WP) 19. Floors(FS) 20. Adams(Bulls) 21. Joe(WP) 22. Adi(KZN)

  • Jacques - 2009-11-11 14:04

    Div sometimes you suck!

  • Malema - 2009-11-11 14:07

    Divvy put more players of color in the team!

  • Kurt - 2009-11-11 14:14

    I rate the end of year tour should be testing and trying out the up and coming stars.. that way the regulars are rested, and we are able to see if there are some newbies able to handle the big time... in a sense you would be able to have larger squads at camps, allowing versatility in selection.. rest the 'oldies' and let the 'youngsters' gain some experience so we can continue the cup winning habit with 'new and improved players' rather than the soon to be burned out team. i am no expert, but it just seems logical to try out a new team, to get ready for the future, while looking after the present.. outgoing tour should be more about working out 'other options' rather than looking for the unbeaten season or whatever.. our goals are the cups, and if we go unbeaten, great...

  • sorry for you - 2009-11-11 14:24

    @ Jacques - and I suppose you swallow? @ Karel - what planet have you been living on for the past 15 years - ever heard of AA, not the meeting you attend, but 'fair discrimination'

  • chameleon - 2009-11-11 15:01

    give div a break ouens. he's doing well.

  • Chris - 2009-11-11 15:02

    I agree that PDV should have left all the regulars at home to rest . The following team in my opinion will carry the flag high. 15 . Zane Kirchner,14. Odwa Ndungane, 13 . Adi Jacobs, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11.Jongi Nokwe, 10 . Ruan Pienaar, 9 Enrico Januarie or if he is diciplined Francois Hougaard, 1, Wian du Preey , 2, Chiliboy Ralepelle, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 4, Danie Rossouw, 5 Andries Bekker, 6,Deon Stegmann, 7 Dewalt Potgieter (kapt) ,8. Ryan Kankowski. Reserves: 16,Adriaan Strauss, 17, Guthro Steenkamp,18. C.J Van Der Linde, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Jean Deysel , 21 Heini Adams, 22 Peter Grant.If this team had been selected for the tests the players that are injured would not have played against Leister.

  • Bok Supporter - 2009-11-11 16:53

    Oh look, another Springbok selector.....

  • John Paul Jones - 2009-11-11 18:47

    Rest the top players during the Currie Cup.

  • William Shakespeare - 2009-11-12 08:44

    @Nick Armstrong11/11/2009 12:35 PM, 11/11/2009 1:48 PM: Keep up the good work.

  • Superman - 2009-11-12 09:19

    ...and the selections against Leicester was a disgrace, ..and a disaster, say the least.. ..another quota/AA failure...

  • Graeme - 2009-11-12 10:13

    I love reading these comments. Everyone thinks he is a guru. DeVilliers is spot on when he says that we should play our best team in the tests, and should rather be rested during national games. As for team selections, everyone has their own ideas - but it is clear that colour is still a factor in selection. Some interesting opinions, and some clouded by personal preference. I support the team that is selected, but dont agree with all selections - and things will never change.

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