The Springboks will play in red against the Pumas in Argentina but the future of Springbok rugby could involve two different Bok teams playing in two different hemispheres.
The principle makes sense and I’ve been an advocate of South African players in the northern hemisphere getting preference for the end of year northern hemisphere tour, provided they are good enough.
The locally based players get the preference for the Rugby Championship and in World Cup year the national coach brings together the best of both hemispheres when it comes to where South African players are based; again provided the quality of the player demands selection.
I’ve always based this view on two different seasons, player fatigue and a way of ensuring no player misses out in the search for finding the best available squad to take to the Rugby World Cup every four years.
The Cheetahs and Kings inclusion in the expanded Pro14 means two South African franchises will be playing through the South African summer, as per their northern hemisphere counterparts and South African Rugby Union CEO Jurie Roux said there players would definitely be considered for Springbok selection for the end of year tour.
The new SARU ruling is that a South African based overseas has to have played 30-plus Tests to be available to the national coach. However, Roux said this would not apply to those South Africans playing for South African teams in the Pro 14.
Roux said he envisaged a future where South Africa had four franchises playing in the northern hemisphere and four playing in the southern hemisphere in Super Rugby. He said a case could then be made that the Springbok team that tours at the end of the year is selected from players involved in the northern hemisphere and that those who play Rugby Championship involve those who play Super Rugby in the southern hemisphere.
Roux, speaking to the highly respected UK Daily Telegraph, said: ‘I can categorically state that we view Pro14 and Super Rugby in terms of qualification criteria to play for the Springboks, in exactly the same light. From a rugby point of view, we now have the opportunity to adapt to conditions in the north quicker. The first game of the autumn is really a tough Test match because of not being used to those conditions and the environment.
‘Now in terms of preparing our players for the conditions of the north, you might end up seeing two different Springbok sides being selected; one for inbounds (the June Test series) and the Rugby Championship, and one for outbounds (European tours) in conditions that are completely different, and choosing players paced for that.’