DURBAN – SA Rugby has all but confirmed that the Springboks will not take part in this year’s Rugby Championship after reacting to a report in the New Zealand media that the Boks had withdrawn from the tournament.
The New Zealand Herald on Thursday night reported that it was fait accompli that the Boks would not make the trip to Australia to play the All Blacks, Wallabies and the Pumas and would instead remain in South Africa and shake off lockdown dust in Super Rugby Unlocked.
A SA Rugby statement on Thursday said: “Speculation in the media that the Springboks were to be withdrawn from the Rugby Championship had been noted. However, it (SA Rugby) would make no comment on the reports until SANZAAR had updated all stakeholders through official channels, which was expected to be on Friday, 16 October.”
Well if that is not confirmation then I don’t know what is … Also, the conviction with which the NZ Herald ran their story, headlined, “Rugby Championship in disarray as Springboks withdraw” suggest the newspaper has been given yet another leak from New Zealand Rugby officials — all year the Herald has published insider information from New Zealand’s governing body.
Springbok Historic Moments:
In 2019, the Boks beat Australia in the opening round of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
— Springboks (@Springboks) October 13, 2020
On Wednesday, Sanzaar gave the Springboks an additional 48 hours to reach a final decision on their participation but it seems that concerns over player readiness have prevailed over the financial carrot of participating in the four-nation event.
Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and Bok coach Jacques Nienaber have consistently said that the Boks would not resume playing international rugby until the players had had sufficient game time in domestic rugby to prepare them for the rigours of Test rugby.
If the Boks had gone to Australia, 45 players would have been taken out of the local Super Rugby competition and the (later) Currie Cup, so the decision to stay at home is a major boost for domestic rugby.