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Ken Borland

Matfield agrees it would be gross negligence to throw Boks into Rugby Championship 0

Posted on October 23, 2020 by Ken

Victor Matfield, South Africa’s most-capped international ever with 127 appearances, has supported SA Rugby’s decision to withdraw the Springboks from the Rugby Championship, explaining why it would amount to gross negligence to throw the players into battle in Australia with so little game-time under their belts.

The maximum amount of game-time any locally-based Springbok has enjoyed for the last six months is 240 minutes, way off the 400-500 minutes the medical specialists have said is safe before playing Test rugby. And the lack of match fitness is exacerbated by the fact that the players are coming off a six-month hard Lockdown, which for much of the time meant being restricted to being at home.

“It’s a difficult one because we all would have loved to see the defending champions take part, but it’s all about player welfare and there are so many unanswered questions about that and what will happen when they get to Australia. Plus it’s not as if they’re just going over there for one game. Our guys have never been in the situation before where they’re out of action for six months.

“It’s normal for players to get injured and maybe miss a few games, and even at the end of the season you probably only have one month out and then you go into pre-season. But six months without playing rugby is massive, especially when a team like New Zealand has been playing for practically the whole time. It would be really unfair on our players to throw them into that,” Matfield told Saturday Citizen on Friday.

While there has been speculation over whether SA Rugby will be able to organise some Test action for the Springboks before the British and Irish Lions arrive in June 2021, Matfield said playing in Europe and having plenty of time for training camps will let new national coach Jacques Nienaber prepare the team properly.

“It’s going to be interesting to see if they do organise some warm-up Tests, but if our local players are all involved in a proper Pro16 then they should be ready. The Springbok team for the Lions tour will be mostly made up of the World Cup squad – probably 80% of that. So they all know how they want to play and what Jacques wants them to do.

“I’m sure Jacques will also hold a few warm-up camps, so I’m sure the Springboks will be ready. They’ll have lots of rugby under their belts and they understand what the coach wants,” Matfield said.

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