Ex-Springbok Andre Snyman says it’s worrying that an unprecedented 50 South African-born players competed in the English Premiership this season.
According to TheRugbyPaper, close to 10% of the overall total playing population of 499 in the English top flight are South Africans, a higher percentage than the Pacific Island nations combined.
In an exclusive interview with the publication, Snyman said be believes the high number of Saffas in England is more of a problem for South African rugby than a poor reflection on the English system.
‘It’s sad that South Africans are trying to get out of the country because of politics – and under that comes crime, safety and the future of the economy – and are using rugby as an excuse,’ Snyman told TheRugbyPaper.
‘I’m not saying South Africans are better players than others, but they have played rugby since they were born basically, having been taught it from four or five years old, so by the time they get to 16, 17, they have had a lot of rugby balls go through their hands.
‘It’s sad because if you look at South African rugby, the stadiums are empty because people aren’t able to see their local heroes anymore.’
Snyman, who played 38 Tests for the Springboks, also said a worrying trend is developing which sees more and more youngsters moving abroad.
‘If you are a family of four it is quite expensive to attend matches and people say, why should I pay a lot of money to go and watch my team when the best players are playing in Europe. Also, because of the quota system there are fewer opportunities for a white player who is pretty good, so they will look elsewhere. You are fighting that battle as well.’
List of South Africans playing in the English Premiership:
London Irish (4)
Franco van der Merwe
Michael van Vuuren
Francois van Wyk
Lood de Jager
Faf de Klerk
Dan du Preez
Jean-Luc du Preez
Robert du Preez
Rohan Janse van Rensburg
Akker van der Merwe
Juan de Jongh
Cornell du Preez
Scott van Breda
GJ van Velze
Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images