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Will things change for SA in 2020?


It is a fact of South African rugby life that SA teams will be doomed to displaying the “Under Repair” sign

SOUTH Africa’s World Cup hangover will officially end on Friday when Super Rugby hostilities resume, with the Sharks hosting the Bulls in a muggy Durban and the next day the Stormers entertaining the Hurricanes in Cape Town, while the Lions have the toughest of starts in Buenos Aires.

The big question is whether the early rounds of Super Rugby will give SA rugby a reality check after the spectacular highs of Japan, or will the World Cup bonhomie boost our teams to greater achievement (let’s bear in mind that South Africa’s four teams were pretty dismal in 2019, with the Bulls surprisingly ending up SA’s top finisher (fifth).

The Stormers were shocking in finishing last in the SA Conference and the Sharks were enveloped in selection controversy emanating from their then coach Robert du Preez, who subsequently left Jonsson Kings Park at the end of Super Rugby.

The Lions also lost their coach. De Bruin’s conditioning coach, Ivan van Zyl steps up to the head coaching role and he is joined by Sean Everitt at the Sharks and John Dobson of the Stormers in experiencing the pressure of leading a Super Rugby team for the first time.

All four coaches have the perennial excuse of rebuilding following the exodus of senior players overseas, although Dobson not quite as much and this is one of the reasons why I am predicting the Cape team to fare much better this year. It is a fact of South African rugby life that SA teams will be doomed to displaying the “Under Repair” sign as long the rand is weak against the pound, euro and yen – in other words forever!

This answers my earlier question of whether anything will change in 2020 just because the Boks won the World Cup last year.

This is the reality: the Bulls alone have lost: Schalk Brits, Duane Vermeulen, Handre Pollard, Lood de Jager, Jessie Kriel, RG Snyman and Jason Jenkins. The Sharks said farewell to the three Du Preez brothers (Dan, Jean-Luc and Robert), Akker van der Merwe, Philip van der Walt, Ruan Botha, Kobus van Wyk and Tendai Mtawarira. The Lions are even worse and the Stormers have lost giants such as Eben Etzebeth and Damian de Allende.

Still, I am expecting SA teams to play with a lot more energy, belief and enterprise this year, and that will have been garnered from the shot in the arm given to SA by Rassie Erasmus and Siya Kolisi.

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