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Overseas Boks won’t be selected

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The notorious President’s Council of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) has made an about turn and placed a ban on players taking up lucrative contracts abroad. They will no longer be considered for national selection.

The council, at it’s meeting on Thursday, took a decision that is likely to rock the leading players corps to its core.

It is not the first time that this council has made unpopular decisions or gone back on a previous decision, but they have made it clear that players will now have to choose between lucrative contracts abroad and playing for their country.

During the Jake White era, which is set to come to an end after the World Cup in France, several players were recalled to the Springbok team while still playing for clubs abroad.

Backs Jaco van der Westhuyzen and Percy Montgomery were the first two in the White era, going back to 2004, but more recently prop Cobus Visagie was included in the Tri-Nations squad while still attached to Saracens. Injury prevented him from taking to the field, but he went to Australia with the squad before a training ground accident ruled him out.

However, this will no longer be the case.

“The [President’s] Council has made a decision that those [players] who play overseas and don’t return to South Africa to play provincial rugby will in future not be eligible to be selected to play for South Africa,” SARU CEO Johan Prinsloo said on Thursday.

“This is obviously a major shift, but we made the call,” he added.

While some Springboks have already left this year, this trickle will become a major flood later this year.

South Africa is expecting a mass exodus of senior Springboks after the World Cup.

The latest player to confirm his departure is Western Province flyer Brent Russell, who have signed on the dotted line with Saracens.

Russell follows in the footsteps of a whole herd of Springboks who have opted to further their careers outside South Africa.

Other departing players include Gary Botha (Harlequins), Percy Montgomery (Perpignan), Butch James (Bath), Marius Joubert (Clermont), Ashwin Willemse (Perpignan), De Wet Barry (Harlequins), Victor Matfield (Toulon), John Smit (Clermont), Gerrie Britz (Perpignan), Bobby Skinstad (Perpignan), Joe van Niekerk (Northampton Saints) and Lawrence Sephaka (Toulon).

These players could now be lost to South African rugby.

The President’s Council also revealed that it is planning to take “tougher” steps against administrators, players and coaches who abuse or criticise referees.

“It [the abuse of match officials] will no longer be tolerated,” Prinsloo said.

“The Council, together with the necessary stakeholders, will make sure this kind of behaviour will no longer be allowed to carry on.”

 

365 Digital

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