Bok jersey is our currency

In sunny SA, where we have the battle weary Rand, rather than the flashy Yen, we have a responsibility to our very own unique currency – the Springbok jersey, says Tank Lanning in his column.

So JP Pietersen will head to Japan for the next two seasons in a “Monster” deal that will make him oodles of cash …

Not too much new there given the recent player exodus …

BUT … He will still be available to play for both the Sharks and the Springboks …

The question is, do we want him?

Pietersen is an amazingly good rugby player, an obvious Bok selection when fit, so one can see the temptation to concoct a deal that tries to see all of the player, the Sharks and the Boks win. But often when trying to please too many parties, nobody wins!

“Finances isn’t the reason why he has decided on this move” … “He needs a break” … “He has been at the Sharks for a long time and doesn’t want to leave them” were all trotted out in the press release, but we all know that is pure horse manure.

Cash, glorious cash – and there seems to be a lot of it to give in Japan – is the reason for all the high profile moves. That and the fact that SANZAR seems intent on killing the golden goose by playing the players into the ground by continuing to expand what is already the toughest rugby tournament in the world. But that is the subject for a future column …

One certainly cannot fault the players – they have a finite time in which to cash in on the God given talent and physique, and thus need to do that in the most optimal way available to them.

Hence the departures of Andries Bekker (Kobelco Steelers), Bryan Habana (Toulon), Morne Steyn (Stade Francais), Juandre Kruger (Racing Metro), JC Janse van Rensburg (Bayonne), Dewald Duvenage (Perpignan), Zane Kirchner (Leinster) and JP Pietersen (Japan).

But back in sunny South Africa, where we have the battle weary Rand, rather than the flashy Euro or Yen, we have a responsibility to our very own unique currency – the Springbok jersey.

And it seems the current solution is to simply carry on selecting those departing players to play for the Boks. Last year Heyneke Meyer picked Francois Louw (Bath), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster), Schalk Brits (Saracens) and Gurthro Steenkamp (Toulouse) for the end of year tour, and while looking at local players first, he has stated that he is more than happy to pick the overseas based players.

Practically, players actually cannot play rugby all year round, and need some sort of off-season. Obviously from a physical perspective, but mentally too. How would you feel if one of your employees spent his 4 weeks of paid leave working 10 hour days in Japan?

Just look at how Frans Steyn, Ryan Kankowski and Peter Grant’s seasons have gone since returning from Europe and Japan. Obviously there will be exceptions, but playing rugby all year round will eventually lead to either poor conditioning or a long term injury.

Players must by all means go overseas and cash in, but not while also earning SA provincial and Bok contracts. South Africa produces a vast amount of incredibly talented rugby players and I say let’s use the money saved on the “Big dogs” cashing in on overseas contracts, on developing the local talent.

The Rand might devalue due to factors beyond our control. But let’s not devalue the best currency we have to offer – the Springbok jersey.

Of course, this does require a Springbok coach willing to pick new and exciting players, and not just the okes who know the calls!


  1. I always find the youngsters coming through the ranks as exciting. A balance needs to be managed – a rugby team needs 5-senior leaders/decision makers at least in key positions. If we can get the leadership right then it can be done.

    With so much science available, can’t be too difficult to manage players ‘hours on a rugby field playing and practicing’ during a 12-month period.
    No doubt in my mind the reason for Kanko ineffectiveness now is too much rugby like last year with Morne Steyn.

  2. Rugby needs a playing season, an international season and a rest period just like that in football or all the other professional sports like gridiron, basket ball and baseball.
    1) Unions/Clubs – only one can contract a player (No shared seasons)
    2) National representation can be picked from anywhere in the world as long as you are a national of the choosing country. All games are played in the international period.
    3) Clubs must accept that they will not be able to have the best players, but a few top players and the bulk second tier players.
    4) The Super 15 is already loosing its gloss with both vieweship and spectator numbers down except in SA…this trend will continue, the compitition needs to redefine itself and perhaps reduce the number of unions so that the pool is still full of good players playing less games but vieweship per game is increased. I am a rabid rugby fan but I can tell you I am very selective about the games I watch but in the past I watched more…just too much rugby that one does not get excited at the prospect any more.

    I believe that in the end less is more – that quality will triumph over quantity and that the reality is that we will all lose good players to the richer regions…thats just a fact of life, but if we want to retain the best players to play in our national squad we need to pick from abroud and not blackmail them into staying in SA by waving the Bok jersey infront of them. It is the professional era…we need to accept that currency is king!

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