Springboks and All Blacks' selection policies go on trial in Rugby World Cup opener

19 September 2019 - 10:49
By Liam Del Carme
The World Cup clash between the Springboks and All Blacks tomorrow will put to the test their respective policies.
Image: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images The World Cup clash between the Springboks and All Blacks tomorrow will put to the test their respective policies.

Test matches between South Africa and New Zealand are often billed as a clash of cultures but in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) Pool B opener their respective selection policies will also go on trial.

New Zealand have fastidiously held on to the belief that players who opt to ply their trade abroad should no longer be considered to play for the All Blacks.

So when players cross the Tasman Sea they effectively draw a line in the sand with their backs facing the black jersey.

South Africa have grappled with the foreign player selection issue and have applied different rules.

Before Rassie Erasmus took over the Bok job only players who have 30-caps or more who campaign abroad would be considered for future Test selection.

Erasmus urged SA Rugby to waive that stipulation which meant he would have access to a wider pool of Test experience and source players whose value isn’t linked to their number of caps‚ but rather their devotion to the Bok cause.

“We lose a lot of IP‚ or experienced players in their prime (to overseas clubs)‚” said Erasmus when asked about the value of overseas based talent.

"We have wonderful talent in South Africa but they seem to lack big match temperament and knowledge and experience in vital situations.

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“We just felt when we spoke to our decision makers and leadership to just get us back on track to scrap the 30-Test rule to get us from number six in the world and we were despondent hitting rock bottom losing to Japan and other teams in our opinion.

“We needed (overseas) players in the team just to rebuild faith and supporters back and get some aura back into the Springbok team.

“The challenge was not to get guys who want to play for South Africa as a ego thing or the money in the game. We did an around the world trip to find out who has the burning desire to really play for the badge still.

"We made sure to select those guys because there are a lot of guys playing overseas just for the money.

“There are players who want to play for the badge still‚ and that is the big difference. The guys who are here are losing money at their clubs overseas.

"They have sacrificed financially by playing for the Springboks. That is the kind of guy we want in our set-up‚” said Erasmus.