Springbok transformation doesn’t require passengers

Like it? Share it.

A strict transformation agenda at the Springboks dictates that players of certain racial demographics need to make up a certain percentage of the starting 23. It doesn’t dictate which players get picked though and Allister Coetzee KEEPS picking the wrong guys.

Transformation is a part of Springbok rugby – it’s known the world over – and I am not going to get into it as a topic.

What I do want to talk about, however, is the plethora of talent we have in South Africa and how, time and time again, we pick the less talented instead.

The mandate by SA rugby is clear – the Springboks are to have a 50% black team by the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan – and, as with any big tournament, the time to start building that squad is now. We need to get youngsters of all demographics in to the squad and give them experience so as to build a squad that can compete at the global showpiece. As an aside, as long as Allister Coetzee is involved in the coaching panel, I don’t believe we can compete but that is a story for another day.

One of the perplexing characteristics of Allister Coetzee’s tenure has been his selection choices.

He has fielded guys that CLEARLY do not belong anywhere near a Springbok team and then vehemently stands behind his decision when we go down to Italy, Argentina at home or the All Blacks 57 – 0. Guys that jump to mind; Adriaan Strauss, Rudy Paige, Morne Steyn and Raymond Rhule and there are probably more.

Raymond Rhule is a case in point. Can AC logically argue that Rhule deserves his spot over Senatla, Nkosi, JP Pietersen or Mapimpi? While someone like Senatla is similar to Rhule in that he has mad speed and can create opportunities – where they differ completely is that Senatla knows how to defend. His game is groomed in a format where defensive frailty will get you exposed and dropped. Nkosi is young and I am not sure about Mapimpi’s attitude but the bottom line is that Rhule is probably 5th in the queue for this position.

Then there is Cassiem. While his case is not as dire as Rhule – he at least tries hard – he does not belong in our national team. Period. He is an above average flank that plies his trade at number 8 – thanks to AC wisdom – at Bok level. Number 8 is a crucial position, his duties range from the complex; being a defensive leader, forming the link between backs and forwards, hanging back to support the fullback – to the simple, like controlling the ball at the base of the scrum. Cassiem is a stand in for captain Whiteley – but here, we could pick someone like Nizaam Carr – who is having a stellar Currie Cup – or we could bank the points and pick a Duane Vermeulen or Dan Du Preez rather.

Even a benchwarmer like Trevor Nyakane could be swapped out with a guy like Ox Nche coming into the fold. Ox is a bright prospect who is solid in the scrums, gets around the park and is solid on defence.

What about Lukhanyo Am? He is almost certainly one of the brightest prospects amongst South African backline players and while he was desperately unlucky to get injured in the lead up to the incoming tests – I expect him to be called up for the home leg of the Rugby Champs.

Right, so now that he have that out of the way, what could a well balanced Springbok team look like in a utopian world?

Let’s take a look:

1. Beast Mtwarira
2. Malcolm Marx
3. Ox Nche
4. Eben Etzebeth
5. Franco Mostert
6. Siya Kolisi
7. JL Du Preez
8. Duane Vermeulen
9. Ross Cronje
10. Elton Jantjies
11. JP Pietersen
12. Rohan Janse Van Rensburg
13. Lukhanya Am
14. Ruan Combrinck
15. Warrick Gelant
16. Coenie Oosthuizen
17. Bongi Mbonambi
18. Steven Kitshoff
19. Pieter Steph Du-Toit
20. Jaco Kriel
21. Jano Vermaak
22. Handre Pollard
23. Lionel Mapoe

The above team consists of 9 black players – the same number as the team that took on the All Blacks and conceded the worst result in our proud 111 year history – but mostly importantly, there are zero passengers.

What’s your thoughts on our 23? What would yours look like? As always, we’d love to hear from you so hit us with a tweet @leftbacks or with a comment below – we love to hear from our readers.


  1. Pick Bosch over Jantjies
    Kitshoff must start
    Marx must up his game
    Pieter Steph du Toit must start, or develop him as an 8. He is a natural ball player, more so than du Preez.
    Coenie is out for the season, but if fit should start.

    1. Interesting point on PSDT – he is super mobile and could probably play as a loosie but he needs proper coaching at making the transition. Also, he has the size that could make him useful there – both as a ball carrier, on defense and in the line out.

  2. I cant agree more. And its not just in the national senior team. Look at WP especially at u 19 to senior Currie cup. Watch some club rugby and the amazing talent there that I could put unto any team. My dad and uncles, are turning in their graves at the heartless rugby. Pick on merit and nothing else. Some current players had their jerseys before they were even born.
    Do away with quota and heritage selections.

    1. Such a poignant point about your dad and uncles turning in their graves, Walter. It’s dark times in Bok rugby and what we need more than ever is really strong leadership.

  3. The more I think about it the more wrong it feels. Having a transformation agenda is going to lessen the quality of our national team. The team you meantion sounds okay but highlighting the “qouta” players just feels wrong.

    1. Thanks Ivan. Just to clarify, we aren’t highlighting the quota players. We are saying that quotas are a reality of the current Springbok setup and, as such, we should pick the best players to represent us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *