Overseas-based players with less than 30 Springbok Tests to their name are not eligible for national duty. As a result, Marcell Coetzee, South Africa’s imposing 28-cap openside flanker, can’t be called up to the Boks when he eventually clears Ulster’s injury list.
Given that South Africa are languishing in sixth place on the world rankings, the AOR team debates whether it’s time to scrap the cap.
Tank Lanning – YES
The two massive trends shaping modern-day rugby involve player movement. Both are powered primarily by currency value as players from the South and the Pacific Islands head North.
Hence the Galactico that is the Baa-Baas-like Toulon side. But they are no longer alone as European club fans play “spot the local” on the team sheet in the pub before the game.
One movement sees players merely seeking fuller wallets, but the other – more disturbing – movement, sees players relocating either in order to play for a different national side, or for a better life that results in them playing for a different national side.
That, of course, powered not only by a lack of faith in SA rugby, but South Africa the nation. Yes, disturbing and sad.
My question: Will needing 30 Bok caps before you can get your next cap in Green and Gold really influence your decision to move?
Perhaps if Rassie Erasmus pulls a rabbit out the hat over the next few months, but given that established All Blacks are now also heading north, I am guessing not.
The other factor worth considering is that, with the rule in place, overseas clubs are now targeting players with less than 30 caps, safe in the knowledge that they will not have to give them up during the official Test windows.
In effect, the 30-cap rule sees overseas clubs targeting the very players the rule was put in place in order to try and stop from moving! How is that for unintended consequences?
Zelím Nel says – NO
After Allister Coetzee broke six records for Springbok losses, SA Rugby holding any kind of cap-rule over the heads of talented players is a bit like mom warning little Johnny that, if he doesn’t eat all his dinner, he won’t be getting any broccoli for dessert.
It’s Bok rugby, not the cap rule, which needs fixing. And hopefully that’s what we can expect with the appointment of Rassie Erasmus, the man who somehow turned the small-town Cheetahs and then the bumbling Stormers into serious contenders before becoming a folk hero in Limerick.
If Coetzee’s successor completes his mission – restoring South Africa to top-three status on the World Rugby rankings to make “Springbok” something that players don’t backspace off their CVs – then the threat of missing out on Test honours will again serve as leverage against lucrative overseas contracts that prey on SA’s weak currency and strong talent pool.
Without that cap rule, elite players with Bok aspirations would have to be quite simple to choose dodging bullets in Randburg over earning five times more while living in pristine Edinburgh.
If anything, the terms of the cap need to be tweaked. Increase the power of the rule so that it remains in place regardless of whether it’s a World Cup year or not – SA Rugby can’t expect players to make career decisions based on a rule that falls away when it comes to the crunch.
And the term needs to be reduced to 20 Tests. Including injuries, form and political meddling, it could take a top player as long as three seasons to earn 30 caps. That’s an investment of almost one third of a long career for a no-guarantees shot at representing South Africa.
You’ve read what they think, now drop a comment to let us know where you stand in The Big Debate!