CAPE TOWN – There is just something indescribably frustrating about seeing key Springbok players not being available for their national side because of club commitments. Especially in games where they are really needed.
In South Africa’s 12-11 loss to England in the opening game of their end-of-year tour, Angus Gardner’s shocking call in the last minute was bad enough.
But seeing first-choice Bok scrumhalf, Faf de Klerk, watch on – from the stands - as his team hurt themselves through poor decision-making and wasted opportunities wasn’t a particularly pleasant sight either.
De Klerk was unavailable for the Springboks’ tour-opener along with the rest of the overseas-based Boks as the Test fell outside of the international window. De Klerk, Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Franco Mostert, Francois Louw and Vincent Koch have since joined the squad in Paris and are all available for selection against France on Saturday.
As frustrating as that television zoom-in on De Klerk was, signing for overseas clubs is obviously a choice those players make themselves. His, or their, absence is just one of the things that comes with putting black on white with European clubs.
Expecting the Boks-first mentality to fully come into fruition anytime soon is probably about as pointless as hoping that certain referees would actually use the TMOs and technology they have at their disposal to make good decisions. And opting for loyalty is certainly less fashionable than joining the trend of raking up pounds and euros. But what is it doing to SA rugby?