Nienaber Refuse To Let The Springboks And South Africa Down

Photo by Jorina Raath/

Springbok coach Jaques Nienaber explained the three phases for a successful return of the Springboks to test rugby to the Rapport newspaper. The Springboks is scheduled to play in the Rugby Championship that will be hosted in New Zealand from 07 November until 12 December this year. He admitted the commercial considerations to take into account but refuse to let the Springboks and South Africa down and lose 57-0 again.

Phase 1: Get the necessary permission to return to play rugby again.

"We are already 11 weeks behind New Zealand, and we have the responsibility to ensure that the players' conditioning is up to standard to ensure their successful return to rugby." 

Eight professional teams in South Africa has already started to train in small groups without any contact. "We will proceed with at least a month of contact training after the initial three weeks of training in small groups without contact. Permission from the government is needed to start with the contact training."

"At this stage, we are 25% behind where we were in 2019."

Players must play in a minimum of six games in South Africa in the proposed local competition that SARU recently announced. The Bulls, Lions, Western Province, Sharks, Cheetahs, Griquas and Pumas will compete in this proposed competition that is due to commence in September.

"If we can not play at least six games, I do not think we will go to New Zealand. The players' welfare risk is just too big."

Phase two: Develop an acceptable logistical plan for the Rugby Championship.

Nienaber said that is several questions regarding the planning of a Rugby Championship in a "bio-bubble" hosted in New Zealand.

"What is the demands for the travel of the Springboks to New Zealand, what will the quarantine requirements be?. Will we have access to a gimnasium and other training facilities during the quarantine period? How long will it be?"

Phase three: We must work with World Rugby to find solutions regarding clause nine. Clause nine regulates the release of players by their clubs for international duty.

It was proposed, that Clause nine should change in order for players to be available for international duty until 13 December this year. This proposal must still be ratified by World Rugby on 30 July 2020.

Nienaber said several uncertainties must be cleared on 30 July. "What will happen if players are involved in European club finals, when will they be available to join the Springboks, and what will the travel restrictions be?"

Nienaber explained that the touring group should include up to 45 players. In normal circumstances, a Rugby Championship squad consisted of only 26 players, but the demands of a championship in a "bio-bubble" could be very different, especially due to quarantine regulations. 

World Rugby must still determine the size of the squads. Due to the uncertainty of the quarantine regulations that will be in place, a minimum of four hookers and props will have to be included in the squad due to the possibilities of injuries.

Nienaber said that he accepts the financial importance of the Rugby Championship for SA Rugby and rugby. He, however, insisted that the World Champions' reputation is as important. 

"I have a responsibility to South Africa, the brand, the Springboks and the players to ensure that nobody is exposed to the demands of international rugby if he is not sufficiently prepared"