Burger: SA has talent to bridge gap on NZ

 Schalk Burger (Getty)
Schalk Burger (Getty)

Cape Town - Former Springbok flank Schalk Burger believes he knows how South African rugby can bridge the widening gap to New Zealand.

The Springboks' rivalry with the world champion All Blacks has been lopsided in recent years, with the Kiwis currently boasting a 55-35 win loss ratio against their old rivals.

To put things in perspective, the Springboks held a 21-18 head-to-head advantage after winning the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.

Rugby turned professional and since then, the All Blacks have won 37 matches compared to a meagre 14 by South Africa.

But according to Burger, who played 86 Tests for the Boks between 2003 and 2015, a lack of talent is not South Africa’s problem, but rather the relationship between SA Rugby and its franchises.

“There are so many guys on the bandwagon being negative about the Springboks, but that’s not helping and we need to find a solution,” Burger said in the latest issue of Rugby World magazine.

“We have the talent to bridge the gap with New Zealand, but the biggest problem is the relationship between SA Rugby and the franchises. Nothing is aligned. For too long we’ve masked a structure that needs a radical overhaul.”

In the same interview, Burger also commented on SA Rugby’s new 30-cap overseas-based player policy.

The policy states that only overseas-based Springboks with more than 30 Test caps will be eligible for selection in future. It comes into effect on July 1, but the Bok coach would still be able to select whoever he wants in a World Cup year.

Burger, who now plies his trade at English club Saracens, said he didn’t think it would stop players heading abroad, but suggested it might help bring a few back to local shores.

“Thirty caps was a pragmatic figure, but there are now over 350 (professional) South Africans playing abroad, and more money is needed for centrally-contracted players to lessen the financial reliance on franchises.”

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