Erasmus: We couldn’t rush players into Currie Cup

SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus says the Springbok Showdown will allow players to be phased into the domestic tournaments in October.

Part of SA Rugby’s plans to reignite an exciting four-month local season will pit the country’s best players against each other on 3 October.

In the match, named Springbok Showdown, a Springbok Green side will take on a Springbok Gold side at Newlands, with Springbok assistants Mzwandile Stick and Deon Davids in charge of the two sides. Erasmus and Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber will act as the team commissioners.

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A roster of 93 players, which includes a mix of Springboks, Blitzboks and Junior Springboks, was announced in the draft squad for the historic showdown, which will take place at Newlands.

Fifty of these players will end up in the two squads – Green and Gold – for the momentous match in two weeks’ time.

ALSO READ: Two trophies up for grabs when action resumes

Following the showdown, players will return to their provincial teams and head into a double round of local action over 16 weekends with two trophies up for grabs – Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup.

Speaking during the roster announcement on Saturday, Erasmus said the decision was made to hold the Springbok Showdown before the domestic tournaments so that players could continue their adjustment to playing after six months without rugby.

‘There’s a bit of science behind the whole project,’ Erasmus said. ‘First of all, the guys haven’t played for five or six months. They are going to play warm-up matches next week and the Super Hero matches.

‘But we couldn’t just go straight into a double-round Super Rugby/Currie Cup until January. They must be phased into that. Playing a game on 3 October where the top 50 players, some of them just outside the Top 50 as well, where we can manage their game time.

‘It also gives us the opportunity to work with the players, if we are going to play in the Rugby Championship. So there is a little bit of method in the madness. Obviously, it’s also a chance for players to put up their hands and show their class and their skills. It’s also a chance for the coaches to work with the new guys for the first time.’

Erasmus added that while players will be encouraged to express themselves, he expects a competitive edge to the match.

‘We want to have a spectacle and we want the players to enjoy themselves. But the biggest thing about becoming a Springbok is that bit of competitiveness. We don’t want a player coming there and thinking it will be happy-go-lucky Barbarians-style rugby. It is a very serious game in my view and I hope Jacques sees it the same.’

Photo: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack