Cape Town - Former All Blacks and Cats Super Rugby coach, Laurie Mains, feels quotas in South African rugby are to blame for the Springboks’ demise.
According to the New Zealand Herald website, Mains was commenting after the All Blacks’ record breaking 57-15 win over the Springboks in Durban last Saturday.
The All Blacks’ nine tries to nil romp saw them saw them equal the Test record of consecutive wins for major Test playing nations (17).
It’s a record they now share with two former All Black teams and the Springbok team of 1997/98.
In an interview with New Zealand’s Radio Sport, Mains said he felt it was arguably the finest All Black team in history.
"I think this All Black team - man-for-man - is the strongest team I can ever remember. It probably compares alongside the great 1967 All Black team for personnel. The 1967-68 All Blacks and this team, personally, I think they are the best All Blacks teams I've ever seen."
But he’s worried about the fall from grace of the All Blacks’ finest rivals, who have been told by the South African sports ministry that half their squad must be made up of players of colour by the 2019 World Cup.
"It's one of the major tragedies of world rugby that South Africa, who have always been in the top two but over recent years have fallen from that mantle,” said Mains.
"Unfortunately the quota system in South Africa is showing there are a number of players there that are not up to international level and therefore it breaks down their whole system.
"World rugby needs South Africa back at the strength they were - and it's going to take a long time to recover."
According to Mains, World Rugby should intervene and also encourage the 300 plus players plying their trade in Europe and overseas to come home.
"I was fully supportive of the quota system when I coached in South Africa. That was 15 or 16 years ago. They've had these quota systems in place now for 20 years. So every player playing at this level - black, coloured or white - has come up through the quota system, so there are no disadvantaged players left in South Africa. Age grade rugby has a quota, they have it right through the Currie Cup, Super Rugby and international rugby. So it's (quotas) no longer needed to create opportunities for the coloured and black players.
"I just feel the only recovery road for South Africa is for them to say: 'right, with our national team, we pick the best players'.
"If New Zealand Rugby turned around and said to (coach) Steve Hansen: 'Sorry you have to pick 10 white players in your All Blacks team, imagine the furore around the world if that policy was implemented.
"I just think World Rugby has to stand up and say 'we can't allow racial selection in international rugby'. I don't think they will do it. For me racism goes both ways. And I only say this because after 20 years I think all of the players in South Africa now have come through without any disadvantages."
This is the second time that Mains, the All Black coach at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, has hit out at quotas in South African rugby.
Just before this year’s Rugby Championship, he told Australia's foxsports.com.au: "For my money they’re gone, with racially selecting teams, they’re not going to cut it.
"With the quota system they have, I think the days of them being top competitors are over."
The Boks finished third in this year’s Rugby Championship, winning just two of six matches.