Cape Town - SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has admitted that the player exodus is damaging the local game in South Africa.
There are more than 350 South African professional rugby players plying their trade abroad and the affects can be seen in the national team's performances.
The Springboks have won only 11 of 25 Tests over the past two years for a meagre 44% win-record.
In an interview with Rugby World magazine, Roux acknowledged that the overseas player drain issue is becoming alarming.
“Last year we had 373 players playing in European club competitions. Any other country that loses that amount of players cannot compete on a national level. Take 373 players out of New Zealand, Australia, England, Ireland, France - see if they compete. It would be tough. We have the proof,” the magazine quotes Roux as saying.
In the past, players used to head abroad towards the tail-end of their careers, but that is no longer the case, Roux stressed
"They are becoming younger," he continued. "People are coming to our youth weeks, our Craven Weeks - our Under-18 aspirational tournaments. They are recruiting them at Under-18. The list (of talent leaving) is getting longer.”
In an attempt to tackle the issue, SA Rugby earlier this year formulated a new policy regarding the selection of overseas-based Springboks.
According to the policy, only overseas players with 30 or more Test caps can be selected for the Springboks.
The ruling, however, does not apply in a Rugby World Cup year.
Whether this policy succeeds in its quest to keep young players in South Africa remains to be seen.