You are coming up against some of the best players in the world, and they have played constantly. Australia and New Zealand have played rugby over the last three or four months.
CAPE TOWN – If Jake White was the current Springbok coach, he would ask SA Rugby to withdraw the team from the Rugby Championship as it’s “a bit unfair” on them to participate.
While Sanzaar announced a revised fixture schedule – with all Tests in Australia – last Thursday that saw the Wallabies host the All Blacks in Sydney in the opener on October 31, and the Boks finishing off the event on December 12 against Argentina in Newcastle, the South Africans have yet to confirm that they will actually travel Down Under.
On Saturday, the SA Rugby Union said that they would announce their final decision “early next week” after consulting with government and Sanzaar as “several hurdles needed to be cleared if it is to be confirmed”.
New head coach Jacques Nienaber and his team are scheduled to start their tournament against Argentina in Brisbane on November 7, but will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period once they land in Australia.
That means that the Boks – who are the defending champions and World Cup winners – will have to arrive in Brisbane by October 18 for the latest, so that they can have a proper Test build-up week from November 1.
Adding to the uncertainty would be the status of overseas-based stars, so it could result in players from South Africa only in the initial matches before others from Europe and Japan could be considered.
And these are just the on-field issues – there is also a huge financial incentive for the Boks to play, as local authorities have already shaved R1.2 billion off the balance sheet, with pay-cuts among the measures taken to reduce the bills.
“From a rugby point of view, as an ex-coach, I think it’s fantastic that the boys want to play Test matches,” the former Bok mentor said following his Bulls team’s 30-23 win over Griquas on Saturday night.
“I understand fully that it’s not the ideal preparation, and probably if I was the coach, I would be asking SA Rugby to try and find ways in which we probably don’t participate – because it’s a bit unfair.
“If you are considering that they will make the call next week, then there are club guys that have to get out of their commitments; there are players here who have played one or two games of rugby who all of a sudden have to go into a Rugby Championship.
“You are coming up against some of the best players in the world, and they have played constantly. Australia and New Zealand have played rugby over the last three or four months.
“I would also understand that there are other things that come into play. Firstly, we are the current holders of that tournament. Secondly, there are television rights, etc.
“So, I can understand that if you are sitting in the boardroom and you are doing the sums, you would have a perception of what should happen, and if you are a coach, then you have another perception. It’s a difficult one.”