Richard Ferguson

What were they thinking?

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 27 Aug 2013 at 08:18

SARU announced that the Springboks would release five players to their French clubs for a one off concession this weekend, after which they will join up with the Springboks in Brisbane. Morne Steyn, Bryan Habana, Jano Vermaak, Juandre Kruger and Guthro Steenkamp will all be playing in France this weekend.

This may be a one off concession for the European based players, after the French clubs specifically requested the release of these players, but it could set a precedent going forward. The increasing number of foreign players in the Springbok setup may see this as SARU giving up on keeping the Springbok jersey for locally based players, and opening up a door for every single current Springbok to leave the country.

The Rugby Championship was designed to take into account the extended travel, having to travel to Argentina during a competition doubles the travel time, as well as allowing the players to have a weekend off every three weeks. The aim of this is surely to keep the players fresh and guarantee a greater quality of rugby to what we are forced to watch during Super Rugby.

Somehow though, the Springboks have not seen the reports about the amount of rugby being played currently, opting to allow key Springbok players to fit another match in during the running of the most important Springbok series of the year. This after yet another poor performance by the Springboks in Argentina, where last year’s draw looked on the cards yet again.

The debate surrounding the use of foreign based players has been an on going saga for a few years now, and my personal opinion has always been that it is a good thing. For rugby to truly be a professional sport, allowing players to be based anywhere in the world was a necessity. My opinion has changed slightly, as the powers that be have not properly controlled this.

Take Francois Louw for instance, his inclusion in the Springbok squad and subsequent play has been a revelation, and he is probably one of very few first choice, indispensable players in the squad. In that regard, foreign based players can add a completely different point of view to training while bring a different skill set to the table.

So it has it’s perks, but again, only if the players and the clubs are managed to the point where everybody knows that the Springbok cause is most important. What these five players will do is to disrupt their newly found clubs this weekend, and only join up with the squad on Monday, after travelling around the world in two weeks. Not to mention the training sessions they will be missing on Thursday and Friday, and the risk of incurring injuries.

When the news filtered through that a bunch of players would be allowed to play for their French teams, I was stunned. The stupidity of such a move is something to make my blood boil. How long will it take for the Currie Cup teams to request their players back for this week, whether due to injuries or simply to attract crowds. It is not so much this decision that has me doubting the administrators of our game, but their lack of logic and the fact that a decision such as this one could open the door to many other requests, which could be to the detriment of our game.

All in all, the foreign based player rule will come under scrutiny, and while decision are being made in the background to cap the number of players in a squad, we can only hope that the administrators remember about the Springbok emblem, and put its cause first and foremost.


  • I’m pretty sure this is a quid pro quo deal. If they don’t release the players back to the French clubs now, later on they can ask these clubs to release the players for a once off game outside of the international window.

    Those players are going to be played into the ground. One of the reasons why SA should follow the same policy as NZ and Australia.

  • Comment 1, posted at 27.08.13 08:23:19 by Butchie34 Reply
  • This is idiotic! If they have something in place like Louw that allows him to play for the Bokke when we need him, picking overseas guys are fine with me. But this decision is moronic in the worst possible way. There is no chance that the guys leaving for France should start the game against the Wallabies, they are going to be paste from all the flying and playing. HM will probably start Steyn, Habana, Kruger and have the other two on the bench.

    The aussies are in a bad spot and we should be able to beat them, but for that we need our team at full strength. This nullifies any advantage we may have had.

  • Comment 2, posted at 27.08.13 08:24:14 by PTAShark Reply
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  • @PTAShark (Comment 2) : I’m not really one who follows northern hemisphere rugby but I was under the impression that the French Top 14 kicked off earlier than the English and Irish tournaments.

  • Comment 3, posted at 27.08.13 08:26:31 by Butchie34 Reply
  • Meyer knows best!

    I cant wait to see the back of him. Will we ever beat the All Blacks under him? Something his previous two predecessors have done.

    I for one hope the Springboks choose a foreign coach next! I wouldn’t be upset if they got a man like Plumtree, why? It would spell the death of a dynasty 😀 the Bulls would actually have to play good Rugby to make the Boks

  • Comment 4, posted at 27.08.13 08:36:55 by Talent Reply
  • Ito of the IRB Player release regulations for the Rugby Championship (9.8.c and 9.9) a player is only released for 5 days before a test. I think that the Bok management slipped up and assumed they had the players for the full period of the competition (as with the June and November windows) only to find out they didn’t.

  • Comment 5, posted at 27.08.13 08:40:46 by Baylion Reply

  • @Talent (Comment 4) : Agree completely!

    If the Boks were one note and too reliant on the forwards under PdV without a backline running that one note has become a hum under HM.

    We did well against Argentina when our forwards had subdued them and their defensive system was gone but it was still pump the ball high and hope.

  • Comment 6, posted at 27.08.13 08:42:13 by Butchie34 Reply
  • I agree with you Rob….this will mark the beginning of the downfall of the Currie Cup and in turn the franchises in SA. I’m utterly disappointed by this SARU move. Meyer’s wings are growing too big and a clipping is overdue…

  • Comment 7, posted at 27.08.13 08:45:36 by chikkoz Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 5) : Is that Willie Britz in your avatar?

  • Comment 8, posted at 27.08.13 08:46:51 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 8) : LOL

    No, it’s a cool cat rusta lion

  • Comment 9, posted at 27.08.13 08:48:59 by Baylion Reply

  • @chikkoz (Comment 7) : Richard wrote the article.

    Well written Rich, I agree fully!

  • Comment 10, posted at 27.08.13 08:49:21 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @chikkoz (Comment 7) : Is this a Meyer or SARU issue. Ultimately I think SARU should be carrying the can for this.

    Just bring in a policy that NO foreign based player can be picked for the Boks and dont stray from that policy.

  • Comment 11, posted at 27.08.13 08:50:39 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • Money

  • Comment 12, posted at 27.08.13 08:50:57 by JarsonX Reply
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  • @Butchie34 (Comment 3) : I don’t care when their season starts. They must have a clause in that states springboks can play for the duration of the rugby championship, otherwise it’ll be better to wash our hands of the dudes chasing the Euro and Yen and put stricter rules in place regarding foreign based players.

  • Comment 13, posted at 27.08.13 08:54:14 by PTAShark Reply
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  • @PTAShark (Comment 13) : I’d actually prefer we wash our hands of the guys chasing the Euro and Yen. Don’t care when their season starts either just trying to provide some justification for a group of mentally challenged administrators.

    @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 11) : I agree completely. But the only problem is how is HM then going to pick his beloved Bulletjies? 👿 :mrgreen:

  • Comment 14, posted at 27.08.13 08:57:17 by Butchie34 Reply
  • @Butchie34 (Comment 14) : He will still be able to select his Bulletjies – they will just have to commit to playing their rugby in SA. 😈

  • Comment 15, posted at 27.08.13 09:21:40 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 15) : By the time that they can get back to SA, he might not be in a job after losing against NZ

  • Comment 16, posted at 27.08.13 09:33:20 by Butchie34 Reply
  • I say limit the number of foreign players to 3 or 4. Right now we have 10! 10! Way too much. Although I don’t think they would do this, I would say they shouldn’t allow French based players at all (because it’s only the stuck up French clubs that do this). Otherwise make it a more private thing where the coach just doesn’t pick them. This way we can still pick players like Louw who are at more reasonable clubs.

  • Comment 17, posted at 27.08.13 09:52:11 by David12246 Reply

  • I’m actually waiting for the Currie Cup teams to start calling for their Springboks! If Bryan and the boys can fly all the way to Europe to play for their clubs, Bismarck should be able to come back to Durban to play for the Sharks 👿 :mrgreen: 👿

  • Comment 18, posted at 27.08.13 09:54:16 by Butchie34 Reply
  • @David12246 (Comment 17) : It becomes a bun fight as soon as exclusions are brought in. It should either be a straight yes or a no. Look at the Fourie du Preez situation – apparently he is only released for home games – WTF, and SARU / Meyer pander to crap like that.

  • Comment 19, posted at 27.08.13 10:07:15 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Butchie34 (Comment 18) : AGREE!!!

    It will also benefit CC, which thus far has been of a rather poor quality.

  • Comment 20, posted at 27.08.13 10:08:36 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • What about the practicalities of flying to France this week, and then down to Australia immediately after the weekend? A long flight from JNB now just became a trip three quarters around the world in a week.

  • Comment 21, posted at 27.08.13 10:32:41 by Bokhoring Reply
  • Doubt there is anything either SARU or the Bok coach can do about this. It’s all part of the deal. European clubs are privately owned and pay big bucks for the services of players. No point moaning about it.

  • Comment 22, posted at 27.08.13 10:53:44 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 22) : One thing they can do is implement a policy of only selecting SA based players.

  • Comment 23, posted at 27.08.13 11:04:12 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Pokkelthanks for the correction

  • Comment 24, posted at 27.08.13 11:27:11 by chikkoz Reply

  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 23) : Yip, seems that would be the only way to avoid it.

    Though I’m not entirely opposed to selected overseas based players.

  • Comment 25, posted at 27.08.13 11:34:10 by McLovin Reply

  • Look, between the 5 teams playing S15 next year, 18 good players have left this year to go overseas. Of those who stayed behind, 6 players who would normally be picked are injured. That is one whole team!

    But in saying that, Kruger and Pienaar are a bit over the top when a Franco and a Reinach are available. But building a new side with players in SA only whilst at the start of the RC is a bit ridiculous.

  • Comment 26, posted at 27.08.13 11:37:11 by Blue Centurion Reply

    Blue Centurion
  • Another opportunity for these already overplayed players to be injured.

  • Comment 27, posted at 27.08.13 11:57:11 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Letting Flo sign another 3 year contract with Bath is also criminal. I liked the JW approach where he offered players Springbok games, if they would come and play in SA when their contracts are up.

  • Comment 28, posted at 27.08.13 12:24:14 by Blue Centurion Reply

    Blue Centurion
  • Louw, Habana, Fourie du Preez and possibly Steyn are the only foreign based players I feel who deserve to play for the Springboks! The rest can easily be replaced.

  • Comment 29, posted at 27.08.13 13:26:21 by SeanyJMc Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 22) :

    As far as I know, there were requests from the French clubs, not demands.

    The cannot demand their players back whilst the International window is there.

    This is an agreement that SARU has come to with the players and clubs, to keep the money players happy. I can’t see that any player would want to go play club rugby this weekend, while recovering from a game against Argentina and while preparing for a very important clash against Australia.

  • Comment 30, posted at 28.08.13 08:28:35 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 30) : I read somewhere that the IRB release window for clubs having to release players is only valid for the Nov/Dec and Jun/July.

    Does SARU have their own seperate agreement?

  • Comment 31, posted at 28.08.13 08:35:49 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 30) :
    @KSA Shark © (Comment 31) :

    IRB Regulation 9 – Availability of players

    9.8 (c) Four Nations Release Period

    9.8 (c) (ii) Unless Council approves otherwise the Four Nations Release Period shall operate each year for an eight week period. It shall commence on or around the third weekend in August and shall conclude on or around the first weekend in October each year. Players shall be released prior to the Four Nations Release Period in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 9.9.

    9.9 In each case of release a Union shall be entitled to exercise its Right to Release for Matches so that Players are assembled at a location determined by the Union selecting the Player and available to train at least five clear days prior to the commencement of the International Match, International Tour or International Tournament. If an International Tournament is not played on consecutive weekends then the five clear day period shall commence five days before each Match in the Tournament.

    The players need only be released five days before a test, there is no blanket release as with the June and November windows

  • Comment 32, posted at 28.08.13 08:51:34 by Baylion Reply

  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 31) :
    @Baylion (Comment 32) :

    So the release is on a ‘per match’ basis, which is really a problem if the Currie Cup teams come to the party. They can then request their players back and SARU can do nothing about those players fitting in yet another match?!

    I think this is rubbish! Who would allow players to travel across the world just to play one single game, before heading off to International duty again.

    Just goes to show that players who opt to play their rugby in a foreign country, make life difficult for everyone and they should simply not be allowed to play for their country.

    It is sad, but it seems to be a reality.

  • Comment 33, posted at 28.08.13 08:55:38 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 33) : If I was a Currie Cup coach, I’d make the request just to be the fly in the ointment.

    If the overseas players are released for their matches then our players should go back to their Provinces to play for them in the same week. The IRB regulations aren’t only applicable to the Northern Hemisphere clubs.

    Of course, I wouldn’t play them they’d disrupt the synergy the guys here have already been building.

    🙂 I know I’m evil 👿

  • Comment 34, posted at 28.08.13 09:03:06 by Butchie34 Reply
  • Currie Cup coaches are in a different situation to coaches of privately owned clubs. I imagine SARU to have much more influence with regards to local players being released or not.

  • Comment 35, posted at 28.08.13 11:05:50 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 35) :

    I hear you, valid point.

  • Comment 36, posted at 28.08.13 11:15:36 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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