Sat 26 Feb 2022 | 08:00

VIDEO: Why Irish model is the right fit for South Africa

VIDEO: Why Irish model is the right fit for South Africa
Sat 26 Feb 2022 | 08:00
VIDEO: Why Irish model is the right fit for South Africa

The declining value of the Rand is going to make it ever-more difficult for South African franchises to ward off the raids of cash-flush European and Japanese outfits.


Given the ongoing ‘exodus’ of frontline players to Europe, with Bulls Springbok Arno Botha linked to a move to Lyon in France, SA franchises will continue to struggle against the Irish provinces with their incredible depth.

However, Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White believes that if South Africa take a leaf out of the Irish playbook, they will be more sustainable and competitive in the United Rugby Championship.

The Bulls boss described himself as a “realist”, when asked about the expectations of South African teams reaching the play-offs.

He pointed to the loss of players like Duane Vermeulen, Trevor Nyakane, Marco van Staden and Ivan van Zyl (to clubs abroad), as well as Johan Goosen, Jacques du Plessis, Sintu Manjezi and Mornay Smith (to injury) as the reason for his caution.

“Yes, there is an expectation that South African teams must do well,” White said, adding: “We want to make the play-offs and play in Europe.”

He pointed to the Irish model and their unwillingness to select foreign-based players, as the way to go.


The Irish Rugby Football Union High-Performance Director David Nucifora has publicly stated that they will continue to not select players who ply their trade abroad.

It is not a hard-and-fast rule, but more an ‘attitude’ that won’t change.

“We’ll be selecting the players that stay here [in Ireland] and play for our provinces,” Nucifora said at a national media briefing last year.

“If players choose not to play their rugby in Ireland, it’s unlikely that we would select them,” he added.


White strongly believes that South Africa could benefit from a similar stance.

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“The Irish are strong [in the URC], not because they got it right in one year,” he told @rugby365com.

“It is because of the process they put in place and the Irish model – to keep Irish players in Ireland.

“The way they contracted and the way they recruited players like Jason Jenkins, Rudolph [Rudolf] Snyman and Damian de Allende, Duane [Vermeulen] is now at Ulster.

“There is a lot to be learnt from the Irish teams on how to be successful in that competition.

“If you look at the Irish model, it is probably the way that South African teams need to go.”

While not all four South African sides will get into the URC plat-offs or the European Cup this year, the teams must give it a go, learn and grow.

While being realistic, White believes the Bulls can make a good fist of getting into the play-offs and even Europe.

“If it doesn’t happen, it is not because we are not trying,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “And if it doesn’t happen [this year], then there are different ways we can grow and make sure we get there next year.”



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