Boks becoming the West Indies of rugby?

Allister Coetzee (Getty Images)
Allister Coetzee (Getty Images)

Cape Town - The Springboks are in danger of becoming the West Indies of world rugby, an English scribe has warned.

Owen Slot, a columnist for The Times, wrote an opinion piece in the aftermath of the Springboks' 57-15 defeat to the All Blacks in Durban.

The All Blacks ran in nine tries to record their biggest ever win over their old rivals at Kings Park last Saturday.

The win also saw the Kiwis equal the Test record of consecutive wins for major Test playing nations, with 17.

It’s a record they now share with two former All Black teams and the Springbok team of 1997/98.

Slot wrote: “South Africa’s record defeat by the All Blacks on Saturday was not a blip. Neither was it a case of a good team at the bottom of a cycle who will soon come strong again. It was not a short-term problem. It was the starkest sign that one of the sport’s global superpowers are capitulating. South Africa are in danger of becoming the West Indies of world rugby.”

According to Slot, South Africa’s talent drain to overseas clubs has impacted negatively on the national team.

“The steady trickle of players going abroad at the end of their careers is now a tidal wave, and they don’t just go at the end any more, either. They go in their early twenties. The suggestion yesterday was that Eben Etzebeth, the South Africa lock, is soon to join Saracens. He is still only 24. This is the kind of player around whom the Springboks should be building their future, not waving goodbye to. In total, an estimated 350 of them are earning a living from the game outside of the country at present.

“Some say that Allister Coetzee is close to losing his job as head coach. Of course they do. Yet, really, when you have a talent drain like that, what do you expect?”

Slot also feels SA Rugby’s transformation targets are hampering the Boks.

“Coetzee must have half his squad for the 2019 World Cup made up of non-white players. Agree with it or not, it means more than just the fact that Coetzee will not be selecting on merit. It has a knock-on effect because it further persuades the young up-and-coming white players to seek their fortune abroad.”

Slot also criticised SA Rugby’s administrators for not abandoning SANZAAR three years ago to form a north-south competition with Europe.

“This could have pumped more money into the game and created a more workable competition (similar time zones) for the players. Conservative thinking put paid to that."

He feels all funds should now be invested into South Africa’s six Super Rugby franchises, and not the 14 provincial unions.

“Unless something happens, though, South Africa is stuck in the spiral. It is not just South Africa that want a better Springbok team. The entire game is weaker with a wounded Springbok. Just as cricket is all the poorer for the long lost superpower of West Indies.”

CLICK HERE to read Slot's full column on the The Times' website.

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