With the British and Irish Lions tour set to take place in South Africa in July, the Springbok’s have less than 90 days to prepare before the tourists arrive. The series organiser’s are hoping to allow fans into the stadiums when the tour takes place albeit in limited numbers and are currently in discussions with government in this regard.
The Springboks haven’t played or trained together since they won the Rugby World Cup in November 2019 and will be in desperate need of preparation time before facing the best of the Northern Hemisphere in the 3 tests. The management of the green and gold know all too well what it takes to win at the highest level and have thus arranged a number of alignment camps in the coming weeks.
The management team including director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus and head coach, Jacques Nienaber will spend 3 days in Gauteng with the Bulls and Lions players before heading down to Durban to meet with the Sharks and on to Cape Town for the men plying their trade at the Stormers. The week thereafter will see them head to Bloemfontein where they will repeat the exercise with the Cheetahs.
Players based in Europe will also be included in the alignment camps and will meet with Springbok assistant coach, Felix Jones who is based in Ireland. The players based in Japan however will be in attendance virtually as travel restrictions make it impossible currently to meet in person.
Erasmus has described the camps as the next phase in the teams’ preparations and strategic planning as the squad prepares for their long awaited return to test rugby. Whilst he acknowledge the coaching staff have maintained constant monitoring contact with the players, he is excited at the prospect of welcoming them back into the familiar team environment.
These alignment camps are not new to the Springbok players as similar ones used to take place during the course of bye weekends during Super Rugby. It will give the players a chance to get up to speed on where the teams tactical direction and absorb all the surrounding knowledge before the full squad gathers to prepare.
Additionally fringe players will have the chance to find out what is expected of them during the upcoming Rainbow Nations Cup if they are to put their hands up for selection, whilst established players will be pushed to gain and remain in form in the lead up to the test series.
Barring any hiccups and major outbreaks, rugby fans around the world can get excited that the long awaited return of the World Champion Springbok’s is imminent, whilst the players themselves will be looking to silence the critics who don’t believe they deserve the rank of no 1, after their year long hiatus from the game.