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Former South Africa head coach Jake White believes that now is the time to bring in a law which prevents the Springboks from selecting overseas-based players.
The Boks have seen a number of their stars leave the country over recent years due to the financial muscle of the teams in England, France and Japan.
It did not hamper them at the last World Cup, with the Springboks brilliantly claiming the Webb Ellis trophy thanks to a dominant 32-12 victory over England in the final.
But White, who is currently director of rugby at the Bulls, thinks it may be an issue further down the line and wants SA Rugby to bring in a law akin to New Zealand’s.
Draw a line under it
“Now is a good time, before the next contracting cycle, for SA Rugby to draw a line on picking players who are contracted to overseas clubs,” he told SA Rugby magazine.
“South Africa are world champions and SA Rugby did something that has worked because, in 2018 when Rassie Erasmus was appointed, the current cycle of Springbok players were all overseas. But we can’t allow that with the next cycle of players.”
White believes “South African franchises have basically become academies for overseas clubs,” with teams in Europe and Japan basically benefiting from the country’s youth development programme.
“The top senior talent is overseas, we play juniors from school who wouldn’t otherwise have been involved in senior rugby, and then when those youngsters are 21 or 22, they’ve got experience under the belt and the overseas clubs sign them and have them for the peak of their careers,” he said.
“We mustn’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg. We’ve got such incredible schoolboy structures in South Africa and our saving grace is that we produce world-class players because we’ve got big schools like Grey Bloem where we’ve got 1,500 boys, and Paarl Gim coached by a former Springbok in Pieter Rossouw.
“The fact that we’ve got WP Nel and Pierre Schoeman playing for Scotland and Paul Willemse playing for France shows how many good players we have.
“It’s debatable whether they would have played for South Africa and so we’re never going to be able to keep everyone in the country.
“There were South Africans playing overseas when we won the World Cup in 1995 and 2007, but we weren’t encouraging them to leave by saying they can have their cake and eat it.”
White says that the system is currently working but is worried about the Springboks in the future should they not keep their top talent.
“I’ve got no doubt that the current model is working and some would say it’s helluva clever – SA Rugby gets overseas clubs to pay the salaries of the top national players and then they play for South Africa,” he added.
“As we’ve seen recently with the Toulon owner’s comments about Eben Etzebeth, the owners are waking up to it. Part of the reason these European clubs sign foreign talent is so they can stay competitive when they lose players to Six Nations call-ups.
“But, wearing my South African hat, how are we going to keep a player like Elrigh Louw in the country by allowing that?
“It says a lot that we are world champions, and Malcolm Marx is seen as one of the best players in the world, but we can’t find a way to have him playing in South Africa in front of a home crowd.”
The article Jake White wants overseas players barred from Bok set-up appeared first on Planetrugby.com.