Rassie Erasmus has highlighted how too many Springbok players had not reached the necessary benchmark in terms of game time to be ready for Test rugby.
On Friday it was confirmed that the Springboks would not be defending their Rugby Championship crown, with the tournament reverting to what is now effectively a Tri-Nations between Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.
It means the Springboks will head into 2021 without any Test rugby under the belt, but Erasmus said it was essential to see the bigger picture after the decision was confirmed.
‘We worked out that the players needed a minimum of 400 minutes of game time before they could be ready for a Test match,’ said Erasmus.
‘The overseas-based players had started playing before us and they would have been getting close to that time by 7 November.
‘But many of those have completed their programmes or have had COVID outbreaks which has interrupted the planning. The Japanese based players haven’t played any rugby at all, while the home-based players would be well short of 400 minutes by the time of kick off.’
SA-based players played their first competitive matches this past weekend, 29 weeks after their last competitive match in Vodacom Super Rugby.
In contrast New Zealand’s and Australia’s players contested a Test match on Saturday, 17 weeks and 14 weeks respectively after they resumed competitive rugby.
Although there have been reports that SA Rugby is now set to suffer revenue losses that run into the millions, CEO Jurie Roux has said they would never compromise player welfare.
‘It has been an extremely challenging year and what started out as a two-week lockdown evolved into a global crisis, one of whose side effects has been to decimate our rugby calendar.
‘It seems impossible that the Springboks won’t play a Test match in 2020, but public health and safety have been the primary concern and we have been collateral damage like so many businesses.
‘All we can do now is enjoy our domestic competitions and find ways to be ready for the arrival of the British & Irish Lions in 2021.’
Tri-Nations Match Schedule 2020
October 31: Australia v New Zealand (ANZ Stadium, Sydney)
November 7: Australia v New Zealand (Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane)
November 14: New Zealand v Argentina (Bankwest Stadium, Sydney)
November 21: Argentina v Australia (McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle)
November 28: Argentina v New Zealand (McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle)
December 5: Australia v Argentina (Bankwest Stadium, Sydney)
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo/Getty Images