- Jake White has reiterated that SA Rugby faces a very difficult decision when it comes to the Springboks’ participation in this year’s Rugby Championship.
- The successful former Springbok coach notes that both rugby and commercial perspectives need to be taken into account.
- Despite missing Rassie Erasmus’ “deadline”, SA Rugby still insists there’s a possibility the national side will fly out.
Jake White has reiterated that the Springboks and SA Rugby are in an unenviable position when it comes to deciding whether or not to play in this year’s Rugby Championship.
The federation on Saturday said in a statement that the national team’s “ability to participate” would be finalised “early next week” though that would contradict Rassie Erasmus, the national director of rugby, who stated a fortnight ago that SA’s deadline for realistically competing at this year’s edition is on Sunday.
SA Rugby is also apparently concerned over Australia’s quarantine regulations – 14 days of self-isolation is required – and the spectre of the Boks not being able to remotely train together during that period.
Putting on his cap as a former World Cup-winning Springbok coach, White laid bare the contrasting considerations.
“From a rugby perspective, as an ex-coach, I think it’s fantastic that the boys want to play Test matches,” he said in the aftermath of his Bulls’ 30-23 victory over Griquas in Super Rugby Unlocked.
“I understand fully that it’s not the ideal preparation and, probably, if I was a coach I’d be asking SA Rugby to try and find ways in which we don’t participate because the situation is a bit unfair.”
He highlighted the Boks potential reliance on more match fit overseas-based stalwarts as one of the major logistical challenges.
“There are club guys that will have to get our of their commitments in that regard, (a difficult thing to handle when you’re only expecting) a decision to be made this week,” said White.
“Allied to that are locally based players who’ve only played two competitive games and now have to go into Rugby Championship. It’s not ideal.”
However, the local game has been impacted severely by the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to May’s much-publicised industry cost-cutting plan, which aims to save R1.2bn.
As a result, the financial windfall emanating from the Rugby Champs is undeniably a dangling carrot.
“I also fully understand that there are other things that come into play,” said White.
“We are the current holders of the title and there is the matter of television rights being place. If you’re sitting in the boardroom and you’re doing the sums you have a perception of what should happen and if you’re a coach you have another.
“It’s a difficult decision to make. I’m sure whatever will need to be, will be.”