Cape Town — D-Day has been set for South African players: the Springbok Rugby World Cup squad will be named on August 8 ahead of the tournament in France.
Bok operations head Charles Wessels announced during an SA Rugby press conference in Stellenbosch on Wednesday that the final 33-man group will be finalised on that Tuesday, which is in exactly four months’ time, before the first match against Scotland on September 10 in Marseille.
By the time Bok coach Jacques Nienaber reads out the chosen ones, the national team would have played in four Test matches this year.
The international season starts off with the Rugby Championship, with the South Africans facing the Wallabies on July 8 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, followed by the All Blacks at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland on July 15 and Argentina at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on July 29.
The last encounter before the squad announcement will be against the Argentines once more, this time in Buenos Aires on August 5.
There will be two further Bok Tests before the World Cup — against Wales in Cardiff on August 19 and the All Blacks again at Twickenham in London on August 25.
Nienaber said that following the conclusion of the current training camp in Stellenbosch this week — where 14 players were in attendance — further camps would be held in May, while there would be online “alignment sessions” with overseas-based players over the next few months as well.
Meanwhile, Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus said that he has had fruitful discussions with retired Welsh match official Nigel Owens about becoming a Bok refereeing consultant, but that the appointment had not yet been finalised.
Erasmus stated that the Boks and South Africa were “much bigger than we having our scuffles and disagreeing with one another” following his long-running battle with World Rugby about some decisions by match officials, which has seen him receive two suspensions over the last year or so.
“I phoned him (Owens), he WhatsApped me back, we had a good chat. I explained to him exactly what we need to get to restore the way we communicate with World Rugby, because we’ve tried different ways …” Erasmus said.
“I’ve made some errors there, and I think there were errors on both sides. But the Springboks and South Africa is much bigger than we having our scuffles and disagreeing with one another.
“Nigel specifically — there are a few other options, but he was the first guy after we had our first coaches planning meeting. We were saying, ‘Maybe we just don’t understand this … Maybe we just don’t have the insights of how these guys see us when we come across’.
“I had a good discussion with him, and for us, we must take that to the steering committee and get those things approved before it gets tjapped (stamped) and they say we can go with that, and motivate those kinds of things.
“He explained his situation to me, and I explained to him why I think, how I think and from when do I think he can help us. He’s obviously got some personal things to sort out, but I think in the next week or two, we will know if that’s a go-ahead or not. But it would be great if it is.”