McGeechan: Overseas Boks an asset to SA and European clubs

Ian McGeechan believes South Africa’s contingent of players abroad will benefit the Springboks, and their European rivals.

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The iconic former British & Irish Lions coach,  writing for The Telegraph, argued that South Africa’s entry into the United Rugby Championship could be a sliding door moment.

“The direction is now clear and by the World Cup virtually all the top South African players will either be playing for clubs in Europe or against them,” he wrote.

McGeechan also pointed to the URC as a means for South Africa’s domestic teams to face the top teams from across Europe, not just within Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy.

“Next season at least one of the South African provinces competing in the URC will also gain access to Europe’s top club competition, meaning that many of the Springboks with the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions will have further top-level competition against to European sides.”

Though McGeechan believes that playing for European clubs will help South Africa’s players become accustomed to the conditions and style of play in the north, the former Lions coach hastened to add that the exodus is also to the benefit of Europe’s club sides.

“Leaving aside the positives that may have for the Springboks, it seems undeniable that this will have an impact on European rugby.

“I know form long experience that South African players are a joy to coach and that they bring high standards and drive a culture of accountability and responsibility within clubs”.

McGeechan cites his experience with Francois Louw at Bath as an example of the positive impact South Africa’s players can bring to clubs, describing the former Springbok as “respectful, willing to learn” and “overall a great team player”.

The symbiosis between South Africa and the Northern Hemisphere looks set to continue, and McGeechan believes this is only a positive thing.

“Playing with and against South Africans challenges you to be able to withstand their physicality, which is to the long-term benefit of the northern hemisphere game”.