Springboks coach to become Dr Rassie Erasmus
Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Backpagepix

Home » Springboks set the wheels in motion with a two-day alignment camp 

Springboks set the wheels in motion with a two-day alignment camp 

The Springboks reconvened in Cape Town for the first time since their 2023 Rugby World Cup triumph as head coach Rassie Erasmus named a 43-man squad for the upcoming alignment camp.

Springboks coach to become Dr Rassie Erasmus
Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Backpagepix

The Springboks have made their first move since winning a record-breaking fourth Rugby World Cup title and these are the biggest talking points following the announcement.

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Succession planning at its finest

Succession planning hasn’t always been the Springboks’ strongest suit, at least not until Rassie Erasmus joined the fray in 2018. Now it is one of the important areas of the game in which South Africa excels at. 

Of the 43 players invited to the forthcoming alignment camp, 27 have Test match experience, only 19 members of the 33-man World Cup winning squad made the cut and 16 players are uncapped. Overall, 39 players are based locally at the five big franchises in the Republic and the remaining four ply their trade in Japan. 

That’s just the numbers behind Rassie Erasmus’ carefully assembled extended squad. 

The make-up of the squad speaks to the absolute and arguably unrivalled player-depth across the various positions. It’s been proven that the Springboks have no shortage of front rowers and yet they’ve now called up five more uncapped scrum specialists — four hookers and a prop — to further further strengthen that department. 

The likes of Damian de Allende, Lukhanyo Am and Jesse Kriel in charge of the Springboks’ midfield, centre is another position of strength for South Africa. But the inclusion of the likes of Suleiman Hartzenberg and Henco van Wyk and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu is evidence that Erasmus and co are not just looking for success in the present, but are also working for the long-term future success of Springbok rugby.

This looks a lot like the start of project 2027 (when the next World Cup takes place). 

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Form was not sole barometer for selection of this specific group

Now, a lot has been said and written about the first group of players Rassie Erasmus invited to start off his second stint as Springboks head coach. 

Many column inches have been dedicated to dissect and analyse the make-up of the 43-man group and one thing is abundantly clear: form was not the only barometer used in the selection process. 

If that had been the case, Hacjivah Dayimani of the Stormers would have been the first name on Rassie’s list, closely followed by the likes of Bulls duo Embrose Papier and Akker van der Merwe and Lions pair Asenathi Ntlabakanye and Francke Horn.

The above mentioned all have a valid case to be considered among the top five most in form players in the URC and yet they were all overlooked for the first alignment camp.

But that isn’t to say they are not part of Rassie Erasmus’ plans beyond this initial gathering. And either way, invitations to training camps do not automatically lead to Test caps.

There will be more alignment camps the closer we get to the Test rugby season which kicks off in July and as long as those uninvited Springbok hopefuls continue to let their rugby do the talking and continue their excellent run of form, the door they are kicking at will eventually come off its hinges.

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The Cheetahs are still a big important cog in the SA rugby machine

For far too long in recent history, the Cheetahs have been treated as the ugly step-child of South African rugby.

Booted out of Super Rugby and then booted out of the Pro16 (now known as the URC), it’s been some time since any Cheetahs players have been considered for Springbok selection.

That was mostly due to the Cheetahs’ lack of competition, which in turn limited the players’ game-time. But with the selection of Marnus van der Merwe, Rassie Erasmus has showed that no talented players will fall through the cracks under his watch and everyone will be given an opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a part of the Springbok environment.

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Ruan Venter22FlankLions
Jan-Hendrik Wessels22HookerBulls
Mpilo Gumede23FlankSharks
Henco van Wyk22CentreLions
Sanele Nohamba25Scrumhalf/flyhalfLions
Jordan Hendrikse22FlyhalfLions
Morne van den Berg26ScrumhalfLions
Quan Hỏn22FullbackLions
Johan Grabbelaar26HookerBulls
Suleiman Hartzenberg20CentreStormers
Neethling Fouche31PropStormers
Andre-Hugo Venter22HookerStormers
Marnus van der Merwe27HookerCheetahs
Ruben van Heerden26LockStormers
Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu21Flyhalf/centreStormers
Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus. Photo: SA Rugby website