James blocked from Bok comeback, De Jongh in

2010-06-04 00:00

ENGLISH rugby officials have won their spiteful battle over Butch James and the Springbok will miss tomorrow’s Test against Wales at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.

The week’s tug of war over Butch James ended yesterday when the Springbok team was finalised with the former Sharks flyhalf being withdrawn and the 21-year-old Stormers centre Juan de Jongh handed his first international cap.

In further changes to the team initially announced a fortnight ago, veteran lock Victor Matfield replaces the injured Andries Bekker and Bulls fullback Zane Kirchner takes over from De Jongh on the bench.

James had hoped to reignite his Springbok challenge with a first appearance for the Springboks in two years, but the blinkered Premier Rugby officials in charge of club rugby in England refused to allow him to play because the Test falls outside the June release period for internationals, a restriction aimed at protecting the welfare of weary players.

Adding to the Springbok’s anger is that yesterday Saracens’ South African hooker Schalk Britz was released to play for the Barbarians against Ireland this weekend.

The SA Rugby Union were confident of securing James’s release yesterday when it emerged that he had a release clause to his Bath contract to play internationals.

However, Premier Rugby rules prevent the release of players to national unions, except for the final three Saturdays in June.

“Saru and Bath were keen for Butch to play but the rule has been strictly enforced,” said Regan Hoskins, president of Saru.

“What’s particularly frustrating is that Schalk Brits has just played 33 matches for Saracens and can be released to play for the Barbarians against Ireland this weekend, while Butch has played barely a dozen matches for Bath this season and he can’t play against Wales.”

Angry coach Peter de Villiers summed up the mood in the South African camp earlier yesterday when he said that if James was prevented from playing on Saturday the Springboks “would go home”.

But threats, pleas and diplomacy have all failed as petty officialdom prevailed and James will watch the Test from the grandstand.

While one door has closed on the Boks’ 2007 World Cup-winning flyhalf, another has opened for the talented, but inexperienced De Jongh, who will join his Stormers team-mate Jaque Fourie in the Springbok midfield.

De Jongh, who left the field during the Super 14 final with a thigh injury, yesterday passed a late fitness test, as did flank Dewald Potgieter.

De Jongh has played most of his rugby at outside centre, but De Villiers has long been an admirer of his ability.

“This is a great opportunity for Juan, who has had a fantastic Super 14 season,’ said De Villiers. “He is a talented player who has held his own in a very tough environment and I have faith in his abilities to make the step up.”

The Test kicks off at 3.30 pm (SA time).


15 Frans Steyn, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Odwa Ndungane, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Joe van Niekerk, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 BJ Botha, 2 John Smit (c), 1 CJ van der Linde.

Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Alistair Hargreaves, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Meyer Bosman, 21 Zane Kirchner, 22 Bjorn Basson.


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.