Key pointers to Bok plans
SPOTLIGHT: As that often-used sententia goes: ‘Read between the lines.’
In contrast to the many reports that have placed question marks over South Africa’s participation in the Rugby Championship, two events this week suggested plans are well underway for the Springboks to defend their title.
The doubt about the Boks’ participation in the Rugby Championship – which they won ahead of last year’s World Cup – was created through a series of quotes and articles.
However, World Rugby vice-chairman Bernard Laporte was the biggest culprit in fanning the flames of doubt with his recent statement to the Le Progress publication in France that tournament organisers were in “advanced discussions” with South Africa to join the year-end eight-team European competition.
“It would be great to be able to face the world champion Springboks,” Laporte said.
Despite the vehement denials from SANZAAR, organisers of Rugby Championship, doubt remained.
The first real ‘hint’ that new Bok coach Jacques Nienaber is, in fact, planning to head to New Zealand – where the Rugby Championship is set to be staged – came with confirmation that European-based Springboks are being called up for a training camp next month.
Sale Sharks Director of Rugby Steve Diamond let the cat out the bag when he revealed that seven Springboks will leave the club to join a national training camp in South Africa.
The seven are Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Francois de Klerk, Coenie Oosthuizen, Armand van der Merwe, along with the Du Preez brothers Dan, Rob and Jean-Luc.
Of those, only the scrumhalf, De Klerk, was a member of last year’s victorious World Cup campaign.
Injured lock Lodewyk de Jager, Sale’s other World Cup Bok, will not be at the training camp. He will continue the rehabilitation on his troublesome shoulder injury in England.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) September 7, 2020
The call-up of De Klerk, Janse van Rensburg, Oosthuizen, Van der Merwe and the Du Preez brothers is a clear suggestion that the Boks will be using an extended squad.
All those called up have already been capped.
As the Rugby Championship is set to be played in a bio-bubble in New Zealand – and given the travel limitations – Nienaber will most likely take a travelling squad of close to 45 players to cover any possible mid-tournament injuries.
#WATCH as @Springboks duo chats about their first training at the @Harlequins
➡️ Familiar faces and ‘lekker’ Afrikaans
➡️ Tips from @WelshRugbyUnion legend Adam Jones
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) September 8, 2020
The second hint that the Boks will feature in the Rugby Championship was contained in a report in the London-based Telegraph newspaper that Georgia is to replace Japan in the Eight Nations tournament and not South Africa – as Laporte suggested.
The Telegraph reported that Georgia is to face England at Twickenham on November 14 – seven days after the Rugby Championship is set to kick off in New Zealand.
Of course, all of this has still to be made official, but if you ‘read between the lines’ you may deduce that the Boks will be heading to Australasia and not the United Kingdom.
NEW SIGNING ✍️ | There is an unfamiliar, unusually large man knocking around Carrington at the moment…
Guess what though #SharksFamily… We might get to see big Cobus in action this week! 👀💪
— Sale Sharks🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) September 7, 2020