White is Right

August 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

Listening to Ballz Radio (I suggest you do if you love sport) and hearing Jake White’s opinion on whether overseas-based players should be allowed to be play for the Springboks, begs the question: when will it end?

What message is that saying to the youngsters? It”s fine, go earn hard currency in Europe because you’ll still be elligible for the Springboks.

Jake is right in saying that if this carries on, the goose that lays the golden egg will effectively be killed off. Our ‘rugby factory’ will surrender to the lure of the pound, leaving a watered down pool of players to run our rugby competitions into the ground. I don’t think the broadcasters and their sponsors would be too happy to plough money into that.

The Springbok team that played Argentina consisted of ten overseas-based players. Now while SARU must ensure that our best players must don the green and gold, surely they must ensure that our wonderful rugby factory – our proud rugby-playing schools – do not allow schoolboys, as young as 16, to sign overseas contracts and therefore dilute our U/19, U/20, Vodacom and Varsity Cup structures.

Yes, there is the argument that, “well if they want to go, then fine, it just means that more talent will come to the fore.” If you believe that, then you are deluded because the high level of rugby from U/19 schoolboy to provincial level will suffer dramatically.

Those players in the second tier of our rugby structures will make the step up – rendering the already-watered down Currie Cup to Vodacom Cup level with quotas.

You can’t tell me that all those European clubs cannot wait to sign Rhule, Kolbe, Kolisi, Catrakillis, SP Marais, Etzebeth, Serfontein, Engelbrecht, Willie le Roux and Lambie? That’s just the tip of the iceberg because all the others are already gone.

Last year, one of my favourites from the Currie Cup left for Ireland. The Bulls flanker CJ Stander was brilliant right from the start. He’s gone too. How many more CJ Standers are going to leave in the next four years?

Perhaps SARU should start a contingency plan right now and not in ten years’ time – in order to solve this cancer which has the potential to ruin our proud rugby heritage.

My only proposal right now is to permit European-based players that are over 26 years old to be eligible for Springbok selection.

Interesting times ahead.

Here’s a link to the White interview on Ballz Radio: http://www.ballz.co.za/sport/jake-white-on-playing-overseas-and-for-the-springboks/2682

20 responses to White is Right

  1. The signs are their already. The teaming are scraping together sides and using the Currie Cup for “development” towards Super Rugby. The Blue Bulls and Lions CC side combined have only just of 800 Currie Cup Caps between them and the average ages are under 23.5, The Sharks have five players of 30 and older and seven players 23 and under.

    None of the teams currently playing Currie Cup, except for maybe the Cheetahs, are of real Currie Cup standard and it’s not just because the Boks are out.

    Come next year the Super Rugby sides will be weaker too.

  2. What we really don’t want is those signs to filter down to Varsity Cup and Craven Week which will dramatically alter our Baby Boks’ development.

  3. They are looking at it wrong. What is the number 2 reason for players like Fourie du Preez, Bakkies Botha and the likes to go play in Japan and Europe? Number 1 is the fact that the amount of rugby they played while in SA is way too much to give them the most out of their bodies. They get to spend time with their families and friends, and actually have a life. Its actually difficult to say if its the number 1 or the number 2 reason, but getting paid extremely well to be able to put your feet up now and then and enjoy life with your family will not be scoffed at.

    If SA Rugby could stop tapping these top players week in and week out without any rest, then the exodus of our top players and the resultant playing of overseas players would reduce significantly.

    I am firm in my belief that our top players would not see it necessary to leave our shores if they were looked after better in terms of work/life balance, and I am sure that SA Rugby as the guys with the strongest finances in the Quartet of SANZARAR should be able to be more competitive in keeping our players here.

    Yeah, I agree with you on CJ, but do we blame him for leaving when Heyneke picked JacPot in his stead?

    On a technicality, yes, 10 overseas players played this weekend. But really only 4 of them actually did play overseas this year. The rest have hardly left the shores for north of the equator.

  4. I get what you are saying MU, but you must take into account that players like Fourie du Preez etc were over the age of 25 and had contributed favourably towards a very strong age group and Currie Cup structure.

    You don’t want 20 year olds deciding to jump ship when they haven’t done the hard yards in South African comps. Them leaving early dilutes the competitiveness which we all proudly beat our chests about.

    South African rugby cannot afford to go backwards. We will be in the same position prior to the 1995 World Cup where we had clueless rugby players, we lacked confidence and depth.

    The 20 year old goes and plays overseas, others follow him, Super Rugby and Currie Cup teams suffer. They try and play 18 year olds in the name of winning at all costs, they get injured and we have a scenario where we go back ten years in depth while local comps become second tier level.

    Is that what you want?

    Because that’s the issue.

  5. As for CJ, well he saw that other players went overseas and got picked for Boks.

    But, he may turn out for Ireland.

  6. I don’t think it’s time to panic yet. As I said on another occasion, none of the players playing overseas have made their Bok debuts while playing overseas. I think the message is clear that you’ll need to be an established Bok if you want to play overseas and still be in contention.

    I don’ think a player like CJ Stander will play for the Boks unless he returns to SA. The other factor is the fact that the U20 team is now the official SA B team, which means that players who represented SA at U20 level will not be eligible for their new countries.

    This means that young players leaving the country are doing so regardless of the fact that they’ll be allowed to play for the Boks or not.

  7. Thanks for your comments Gert, i agree 100 percent with you but the main issue at hand here is the threat of all our competitive structures being compromised by the lure of the Pound or Euro.

    Younger players deciding to go overseas to ply their trade will result in weaker Super Rugby, Currie Cup, Vodacom Cup and right down to U/20. South African rugby won’t have enough depth to maintain its high standard of rugby. All that depth will be playing up North.

    There will be a steep rise of amateur-level rugby players playing first-class rugby. ie Currie Cup etc.. Springbok rugby’s strength owes a debt of gratitude to the Currie Cup.

  8. As I said on another blog it is difficult to keep the players in SA when they will be earning so much more in EU. You have to realize that these players are people to and the fact that all these countries are so much safer with less crime and corruption also plays a role.

    I believe we have to select our best team for the Boks but maybe contract 8 – 10 guys directly to the Boks and then lend them to clubs in SA or EU or Japan. But let SARU have the choice to use them when needed.

  9. Players are more interested in earning very good money in the short sport “lifespan” than playing for the Boks. The Boks are fast becoming a secondary issue. International rugby will go the way of Soccer and unless overseas players are able to play it will die much like the Dodo.

  10. The 20 year old goes overseas he doesn’t run out for the Boks ever.

    Uncapped overseas players will not get picked. Stander left because he clearly wasn’t being rated by the Bulls. Everyone and their dog were picked above him, and he had zero shot at making the Bok side. He would have been stupid not to go.

    Except Francois Louw (and now Kruger) every overseas player in that team has a lot of caps behind his name.

  11. I agree, but I can’t see SARU not letting these guys play for the Boks being able to stop the exodus. The fact is that it’s a lifestyle change, must be a great experience and it pays well. Nothing that SARU can do to stop that.

    I can’t see anything short of the outbreak of World War 3 stopping our players from going to Europe and Japan.

  12. Precisely Powa, look at the PSL. Before isolation we had all our top soccer players playing in a strong local league. Bafana Bafana had some good talent within their ranks from 1992 to 2002. Now Bafana are a joke. Our local league is full of average overseas professionals and is generally weak while our player talent is slowly dwindling.

    Will we have the same scenario in the Currie Cup in 10 years?

  13. @provincefan, don’t talk rubbish.

    CJ was the best loose forward at the Bulls but he had seasoned Springboks returning – hence those ‘dogs’ you refer to took his place.

    He was 21 last year when he signed for Munster. Clearly you don’t watch every single game. And if you played CC fantasy dream teams in 2011 and 2012, you would’ve seen he was one of the most valuable players in the CC.

    He was called up last year to train with the Boks, captained the Baby Boks at 2010 IRB World Cup. Do i need to say anymore?

    http://www.supersport.com/rugby/sa-rugby/news/120620/Stander_decision_rocks_Bulls_SA

  14. I personally rated him VERY highly. I thought it was tupid to put him on the bench and not start him. The Bulls clearly didnt. They first brought in J Potgieter, then they signed Grant Hattingh during Superrugby to cover 7 and 5, and then they started picking Arno Botha above him.

    He was playing behind the D Potgieter, Steggman and Spies at the beginning of last year. By the end of it he was playing behind 2 Potgieters, Steggman, Spies and Botha. Then there was talk of converting him into a hooker so he could get more gametime (a la Derick Kuhn). If you tell a flanker he can sit on the bench if 3 guys are injured otherwise he wont play, OR he can play hooker and he might make the bench consistenlty, what message are you sending him?

  15. Your article confirms what I said. Stander did not leave for the money. The Bulls mumbled about not being able to match the offer, but Stander’s agent clearly said they never even asked the Bulls to try and match it.

  16. Really? How do you expect the Bulls to match Euros – especially with four older and more experienced loose forwards?

    Where the Bulls now, they’d love to have Stander back. They had to recruit more loosies for the CC this year.

    Munster made the offer, Stander didn’t go sniffing around for a contract. He would not have gone for free and if it wasn’t for the money why did he leave when the Bulls didn’t match his offer?

    And to believe the words of his agent Gerrie Swart or any player agent is ludicrous. He left for the money, if the Bulls had matched his offer, he would’ve stayed.

  17. Clearly you want to argue for the sake of arguing.

    This post is not about CJ Stander, it is about the potential degradation of our rugby structures thanks to player drain.

  18. I understand that HM must win… to keep SA Rugby and Fans happy.

    seems that we are grooming ourselves to win the battle but lose the war?? Overseas based players are living the dream and by that i mean earning big bucks and still being able to wear the G&G.

    HM and SARU are shitting where they’re eating. No one should have their cake and eat it too. young players will leave because money and the possibility of playing Test rugby for another country down the line is a better deal than killing yourself in Super Rugby just to never be considered good enough.

  19. It won’t stop – look at football. It will find a way to sort itself out along the same lines because economics calls the tune. The All Blacks & Aussies going against the tide will not last. It is the evolution of the professional game and Rugby simple is not there yet (where football is).

  20. Ja, I agree with you on the younger players going overseas. I think the thing with the younger players nowadays might be that the Springbok doesn’t mean as much to them as to the older guys. Guys like Os who cried in 2007 when he got his World Cup Bok jersey. I would like a rule like you said, about players under a certain age not being legible to play if they are overseas based…or players with a minimum amount of caps to be allowed back if they earned those caps while playing domestically. Thing is, its hard for local unions to compete with the euro’s.

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