The rumours are rife and it seems Rassie may well be in the look-in for the Springbok job. Could he be an inspired choice? What Rassie Erasmus would bring to the table in such an influential role would be similar to some of the good Stuart Lancaster brought to England Rugby.
Mainly the knowledge of junior players and being able to use this to bridge the gap between the under 20’s and the senior side. When an era is on the verge of ending, the next generation is expected to prepare to take over. There is an expected foundation for the start of the new era. Does South Africa have the right foundation going into 2016? It looks better than years past. However that is a debate for another day.
The under 20’s have underperformed massively. Understatement. One under 20 championship in the 8 editions spews failure and the preparations to the junior side are a cause for concern. The 2016 Championship is in England and the Junior Boks play England first.
It will be interesting to see how the youngsters do this year against talented England and New Zealand sides. With Eastern Province under 19 winning the Currie Cup and the Blue Bulls coming very close it will be worth noting how many players from these two sides are deemed capable of being future Springboks when they are selected for the Under 20’s.
The pathway of a succession plan to not just players but also coaches has been missing in South Africa for some years now. Most international sides have a second string side which they use to blood young talent, ease in returning stars from injury or to check form before thrusting players into the rigours of Test rugby at the highest level.
England managed to introduce Sam Burgess to international rugby through the England Saxons game against Ireland Wolfhounds. A look at the England Saxons, Maori All Blacks and Ireland Wolfhounds reveals just how vital these sides are to a team. This will allow the players to have a sense of belonging, a step away from the ultimate goal. A small reward for form.
Is it a guarantee to be capped? No. Calling players to training camps is well and good but how many times have players had to adapt to a system by actually playing games in the national system.
Over the years the All Blacks have used the Junior All Blacks, Maori All Blacks and the New Zealand Barbarians to great effect. A little over 70 players that will be on the roster and coaches’ eyes. The players are not just the future All Blacks, but also stars returning from injury or players in great form but are not ready to be capped.
International experience will be gathered from their exploits and the sides will be learning the demands of Test match rugby and are integrated into the culture of being an All Black. With the amount of talent in South Africa it will be viable to have an Emerging Springbok side and a South Africa A team.
Monitoring players, ability to see players that can become Test players, adapting and learning to play against Test nations (albeit be it tier 2) and will allow the coaches and the fans to see if there is a succession plan. A sign of hope or none at all. The pecking order in the national set up will become a lot more evident with two more national sides in line with the Springboks.
Players like Nehe Milner-Skudder, Codie Taylor and Elliot Dixon to mention a few did not just appear in the 2015 Super Rugby season, or the latter two in the All Black squad. These are players that featured as new caps and prominently in the Maori All Black tour to Japan which saw a 2-0 series win for the New Zealanders.
The English side also features great examples as former under 20 stars got rewarded for their form in the Championship, Aviva Premiership and Anglo-Welsh Cup by featuring in the England Saxons team in 2015. Their call up to the 2016 Six Nations squad is no surprise to most locals as the likes of Elliot Daly, Ollie Devoto and Maro Itoje have played test match rugby against Test veterans.
While players like Chris Ashton and Marland Yarde also featured while they faced Test exclusion. They played a role of mentorship and leadership in the squad, which would assist the youngsters coming through. The thought of an Emerging Springboks touring tier 2 sides would be gold not just for our own team but also to the benefit of tier 2 sides that are growing and improving as sides.
The Emerging Springboks of 2009 that featured against the British & Irish Lions was at hand to snatch a draw against the touring side. An impressive 12 players went on to become Springboks and whether brief or not, got there. The importance of the side is evident and could be of value if the rumoured return this year is to be believed.
The role of seeing just how good the likes of Franco Mostert, Jaco Kriel, Courtnall Skosan, Francois Venter, Jamba Ulengo, Warrick Gelant and Ruan Botha to mention a few. A tool to also develop the talent towards the refinement of edges assists the growth of the game and the depth of South African rugby. There is a need to have the Emerging Springboks resurrected. Brought back to life. Bring them back.
By: Benedict Chanakira