Bok travel incredibly taxing

2010-07-05 21:21

Adnaan Mohamed

Auckland – Flying halfway across the world while sitting for close to 20 hours on a plane is not for the faint of heart.

But that is exactly what the Springbok team were faced with when they travelled to the land of the Long White Cloud to front up to the arch enemy, the mighty All Blacks, on home soil for two successive weeks.

And having gone though the whole experience myself, I have newfound respect for professional rugby players who constantly have to spend long arduous hours on planes to get to their destinations.

Having travelled quite a bit myself, I still haven’t encountered a journey as long and gruelling as the one I experienced this time around.

The two hour flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg was pleasant enough.

The highlight for me was feeling the 2010 Soccer World Cup vibe and interacting with hundreds of foreign soccer enthusiasts, watching Germany demolish Argentina at OR Tambo airport.

It also helped to kill five hours of my time while waiting to catch my connecting flight to Sydney.

The flight to Sydney however, is a killer.

Besides watching movies there is nothing else to do but try to get a little bit of shut eye.

The designs of the seats in economy class are not exactly ideal. While sitting in an upright position, you are squeezed in tightly like sardines in a can.

This is not conducive for someone needing some serious shut eye.

Landing in Sydney is a relief simply because it means you at least get a chance to stretch your legs.

But then there is still the traumatic experience of having to clear the tedious Australian customs in time for the last leg of the three hour journey to Auckland.

By the end of it all you are well and truly knackered. From a players point of view the last thing on your mind is having to front up to the all Black Haka in a few days time.

But like all professional teams, the Boks have a plan to counter this effect. Springbok team doctor, Craig Roberts walked around with a plate handing out medication to all the players and members of the management team just after their arrival at around 20:30 on Monday in the foyer of the Crowne Plaza.

Butch James and Francois Hougaard arrived at the hotel with only their hand luggage after the rest of their belongings did not arrive with the others at the airport.

It was not only the players and management who were feeling the after effects of the long journey but the journalists as well. 

The doc explained to me that one tablet is to help to recover from jet lag, while the other one was a strong sleeping tablet.

I had not slept since my arrival on Sunday night and was already starting to feel like a zombie.

The Doc advised me to take both tablets at around midnight.

So, while writing this diary entry, I am already starting to feel drowsy.

With a bit of luck I wake will wake up refreshed and in time up to join the Boks at their practice session at Onewa Park on Tuesday.

Hopefully they would also have shrugged off that dreaded jet lag so that they can be well rested come Saturday.


  • Chris - 2010-07-05 21:36

    Errrrr? They do it often enough don't they? They also get paid a shitload of money to do it. For that type of money, I would do it once a week.

  • Theo - 2010-07-05 21:52

    Would really like to know what that medication is. The longer trip (for budget purposes) via Malaysia or Singapore takes anything from 24 to 32 hours, and really pushes you to the edge!

  • GT - 2010-07-05 22:10

    Grow a pair Adnaad. You sound like the pre 2004 boks or worse, the Bulls before they started winning. Is this the first time you have left home? Those poor Bok, been chilling for 2 weeks and they get to fly business class and get paid R200,000 plus for 3 weeks work.

  • Halfnine - 2010-07-05 22:13

    I will be doing the long journey next week to watch the boks in wellington, will need some of those tabs, then moving on around new zealand and on to brisbane to support the Boks again, cant wait

  • Greg - 2010-07-05 22:14

    The All Blacks also have to do the same so it goes both ways.

  • Andre - 2010-07-05 22:17

    Oh, come on. You make it sound as if you have travelled to the end of the world. I have been on this route several times and it is not as bad as you make it out to be.

  • Rich - 2010-07-05 22:27

    Interesting article Adnaan, thanks very much. Always interesting getting some insight into the lives of our nations favourite team.

  • Gavin - 2010-07-05 22:30

    Yeh, when the All Blacks travel they also have to "Fly halfway across the world". Difference is, like other professional international sportsmen they don't complain. With the type of money a Springbok team or player earns, gosh it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that the cost of a Business Class (100% lay flat chairs) ticket is dirt cheap!! Besides that, am looking forward to a good clash :) ... exciting!

  • Aubit - 2010-07-05 23:11

    Well i must admit i am looking so forward to the games. the All black v Bok games are the highlight of my "rugby" calendar. we all have our excuses etc etc.................but the All Blacks make excuses and moan everytime they lose!!!!! i know it's not often but it is so true.

  • polly - 2010-07-06 01:35

    You poor darlings. We business people have been doing these trips for most of our working lives and earning a fraction of what these guys do. The trouble is that once we land we have to attend meetings and can not make excuses for poor performance. We do not have a nurse maid to give us medication and tuck us in at night. We have to arrange our own transport to meetings and do not get driven in a luxury bus. Boet if it is so bad get another job.

  • Hannes from Perth - 2010-07-06 06:23

    It is much easier to fly West than East - the trip is also much shorter. It takes 9 hours to fly from Perth to Jhbs and 11 from Jhbg to Perth. So unless the All Blacks fly West to play a game against South Africa in New Zealand it is not the same. South Africa's travel schedule ismore difficult and it is no co-incidence that South Africa's Super 14 results improved when a half way stop was introduced - with the Force in Perth. With no game in Perth this year, it will be a difficult year for the Boks.

  • slg - 2010-07-06 06:24

    SA have always had by far the heavier travel itineraries relative to NZ in both Super Rugby and the Tri-Nations. And its been during this period NZ turned the win-loss ratio between in their favour.

  • Big Cheese - 2010-07-06 06:48

    Why don't they leave SA earlier than a few days before the test ? Surely thy would then have more time to recover . My heart bleeds for you .

  • Lionel - 2010-07-06 07:15

    The Springboks fly business class and Adnaan Mohamed my have been stuck in the back in the sardine can, as he puts it. I have in the past been on two trips to Auckland via Sydney and one trip coming back home via Perth, where the Springboks where on the same flights and they where always seated in business class. What about the Crusaders team, who after just returning from SA in this years Super 14, had to then return to SA for the semi-final. The flight times and jetlag are a killer, but it is the same for all the teams. What these players earn and they all live very comfortable lives at very young ages, a little discomfort for 16 flying hours or so, I am sure is well worth it.

  • Mike - 2010-07-06 07:32

    I travel to the USA several times a year - a trip of around 26 hours each way. Going there is fine, but travelling westwards back home is a killer, just as Adnaad says. It's a lot tougher on the Boks going to NZ than it is for the AB's coming to SA...lets not knock the guy, he's honestly relating his experience of the trip for us.

  • @Gavin - 2010-07-06 07:53

    Have you ever done that particular trip becasue I have done similar trips to Indonesia and it is really horrendous. The advantage the All Backs have is that they are travelling East to West which for some reason seems a lot easier than West to East. I certainly hope for everyones sake that the players travel first class becasue that may assist them to perform to their true potentail. Also no amount of money improves the feeling of being exhausted, and therefore not being able to perform at your best so I fail to see what the boks are being paid has to do with the issue.

  • BC - 2010-07-06 08:45

    Helllooooo!!! Been doing it for a long time now and the AB's and Aussies as well. It's their job and OMG it must be hell up there in first class!! Are we making lame excuses here just in case?

  • Dr Poppycock - 2010-07-06 09:46

    The best thing to do is avoid eating (& alcohol) for the duration of the flight. Drink plenty of hydrating fluids and then begin your normal eating routine after arrival in the Land of the Long Cloud. Bakkies and the lads should load up on the biltong and boerewors a few days before the flight. Simple

  • LM01 - 2010-07-06 10:59

    ag pls they travel buss class, its a breaze - and they get paid well enough, what a useless piece of writing.

  • LM01 - 2010-07-06 11:01

    ag pls they travel buss class, its a breaze - and they get paid well enough, what a useless piece of writing.

  • Shawn - 2010-07-06 11:22

    Korea! Shout! Shout!

  • Shawn - 2010-07-06 11:24

    Korea! Shout! Shout!

  • SaffaDazza - 2010-07-06 11:30

    Try flying from London to Sydney, now that is long haul!!! They last played the Italians two weeks ago, why didn't they fly out last week then? Probably trying to protect the players from all the hype in NZ however I am hugely excited about the game on Sat, GO BOKKE!!!!!

  • Bozo - 2010-07-06 12:04

    Why are you fellas taking a shot at the Boks? They didn't complain did they? This is an entry by a journalist that did the flight - not a team member. Polly, you plonker, if you "business people" do this trip all the time, and only get paid a fraction of what the players earn, then you are the idiot pal, perhaps you should get another job.

  • Pat - 2010-07-06 13:01

    Adnaan u have writtten a pile of poo. Judging by the quality of your writing this is probably your last trip down under so enjoy it. I have flown that route several times for work. It is not that bad plus the players have beds in business class?

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