There’s no doubting that the current Springbok side is a team in transition. A new coach after the World Cup and with new faces in the playing staff it is a team that has a great deal of promise, but one which is also not performing to it’s full potential.
With only one team truly playing well in the Super Rugby competition this year, albeit doing very well and making the final, South African rugby is going through a turbulent change as politics, playing style and players themselves have created a difficult first year for Allister Coetzee.
The main issues have stemmed from a lack of form in key positions (injuries have played their part in this) and most importantly from a lack of identity as South African attempts to redefine the brand of rugby they play.
The Lions this year for example took Super Rugby by storm with their free flowing, open brand of rugby that took them all the way to the final. In contrast though the South African national team has struggled to flow in quite the same way and has left the Springboks play looking broken, disjointed and the players appeared almost low in confidence at times during the Rugby Championship as they struggle between the Springbok rugby of old and this new expansive game the Lions have begun playing.
An issue that contributes to this disjointed play is the sheer numbers of South African players plying their trade abroad. The Springboks more than perhaps any other national team in the world at the moment have a lot of very good South African players no longer playing in South Africa.
This has resulted in an evident lack of cohesion amongst the Springboks when many of these players based abroad are called up for national duty. When watching the Springboks at times this year it has been easy to see why countries such as Wales are fighting so hard to maintain their best players in their national franchises and teams.
To truly emphasise the problem on the hands of the Springbok coaches we at Pundit Arena have drawn up a South African XV from the players plying their trade across Europe. Some of these players are still making Springbok squads and playing whilst others are not, but are still arguably good enough to.
This European based South African match day squad is a team that would definitely match the current Springbok team, if not take the spoils.
- Gurthro Steenkamp (Toulouse)
- Bismarck du Plessis (Montpellier)
- Vincent Koch (Saracens)
- Michael Rhodes (Saracens)
- Jacques du Plessis (Montpellier)
- Willem Alberts (Stade Francais)
- Francois Louw (Bath)
- Duane Vermeulen (Toulon)
- Francois Hougaard (Worcester)
- Demetri Catrakilis (Montpellier)
- Gio Aplon (Grenoble)
- Francois Steyn (Montpellier)
- Jaco Taute (Munster)
- JP Pietersen (Leicester)
- Willie le Roux (Wasps)
- Schalk Brits (Saracens)
- Brian Mujati (Sale)
- Werner Kruger (Scarlets)
- Franco Mostert (Lyon)
- Marcel Coetzee (Ulster)
- Ruan Pienaar (Ulster)
- Morne Steyn (Stade Francais)
- Bryan Habana (Toulon)
BJ Botha, Flip van der Merwe, Juan Smith, Schalk Burger, Pierre Spies, Nic Groom, Robert Ebersohn, Zane Kirchner.