Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Jake White fears that South African rugby is heading in the wrong direction.
The Springboks have struggled in recent seasons, with first ever losses to Argentina and Japan, as well as a home loss to Ireland damaging the reputation of a once-feared team.
At boardroom level, things aren’t too rosy either, with SARU president Oregan Hoskins recently resigning, CEO Jurie Roux being accused of financial mismanagement and national team skipper Adriaan Strauss indicating his intention to retire at the end of 2016.
The All Blacks are dominating world rugby and the Boks have seemingly slipped way behind.
“In the next five years, unless we make some really strong decisions as a union and a country, our rugby reputation will be lost - maybe forever. The writing is on the wall,” White told Vodacom Rugby from France where he is head coach of Top 14 side Montpellier.
South African rugby is also losing several frontline players to overseas clubs which has impacted on the strength of the Currie Cup.
“I love South Africa and our rugby, I always have... one of the greatest days of my life was becoming the Bok coach. But when I look in from overseas and see the Blue Bulls playing the Golden Lions in a Currie Cup match on a Friday night, when there’s no Test match on the following Saturday, that for me is a tell-tale sign of where our rugby is going,” said White.
“The Currie Cup was South African rugby’s saving grace during the isolation era. To play Currie Cup rugby was almost tougher than playing Test matches at times - when touring sides came to South Africa, and they had to play Northern Transvaal, a lot of teams called it their ‘fourth Test match’.
“If you look at the kind of players who are playing Currie Cup now, with the Springboks and internationals away, we are saying that the Currie Cup is not what it used to be, and my fear is that we’re accepting mediocrity.”
Against the All Blacks, the Springboks have also lost 11 off their past 13 Tests.
“The difference is that New Zealand are not using rugby as the benchmark for their success. The All Blacks coaches aren’t measuring themselves against the greatest rugby teams, they’re looking at the greatest professional sporting teams in the world - Barcelona FC, Ferrari’s F1 team...
“As an ex-Bok coach and a fan of South African rugby, it hurts to say that, the way we’re heading, we’re going to end up where we can’t be a force in World Rugby anymore,” said White.
White coached the Springboks between 2004 and 2007.
His tenure ended with the Boks winning the 2007 World Cup in France.
READ the full story on the Vodacom Rugby website.