Cape Town - The notion that South African rugby is in crisis in exaggerated, former England centre Jeremy Guscott believes.
The Springboks have had a torrid year under Allister Coetzee as coach, losing six out of 10 Tests.
The team suffered a first home loss to Ireland, lost away to Argentina and also got humiliated in a record 57-15 defeat to the All Blacks in Durban.
Last week saw them lose 37-21 to England at Twickenham - their first defeat to those foes in a decade.
Guscott, via a column on BBC Sport, said the South African team was “the poorest we've seen in a long, long time” but did not believe that all hope was lost.
He wrote: “To say South African rugby is in crisis is an exaggeration. But they are certainly not in a good situation, given their past status.”
Players moving abroad, injuries and retirements are to blame for the Boks’ current woes, Guscott feels.
“When players started leaving South Africa, they were often vastly experienced and could adjust well to playing club rugby abroad and returning home for internationals.
“But bit by bit, those players - people like Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Jannie du Plessis, Schalk Burger, Francois Steyn - have either drifted away, retired or their form has dropped, and nobody has stepped up to replace them.
“Injuries have hurt them - they've had a host in the back row, including to Francois Louw and Duane Vermuelen - and they've not had a steady half-back partnership for the last few years. You're always going to struggle for stability and consistency if you don't have that.’
Guscott, 51, played 73 Tests for England between 1989 and 1999.