The Rassie Erasmus era of Springbok Rugby, which has continued under the tutelage of Jacques Nienaber has always had preparation at the forefront. The old adage, failing to prepare is preparing to fail rings true and the Springbok management has always worked hard to be ahead of the game in that department. If they're not exploiting loopholes in the rule books, they're practicing 'the move' behind closed doors.
It is no surprise then that the Springbok squad chose France as a training base ahead of their end of year tour, which will not see them come up against Les Blues. The 2023 Rugby World Cup will take place in France just over 18 months from now and this is the perfect time to familiarise themselves with the conditions and country itself. France was a happy hunting ground for the 2007 Bok side and Jacques will be hoping to emulate that success when his side begins their defense of the World Cup here.
The South African and Japan based players landed ahead of the weekend, with many of them spotted at the game between Montpellier and Racing 92 in which Cobus Reinach swiftly reminded selectors of his worth when he scored a brace as his national team mates looked on from the stands. The remainder of the squad was set to link up with the team on Sunday after their domestic commitments had wrapped up and the team hit the training ground on Monday.
With the primary focus being the upcoming fixtures against Wales, Scotland and England on successive weekends, basing the team in France will allow the players, especially the younger ones, the chance to familiarise themselves with the environment they'll spend a lot of time in come 2023. It also helps that squad members like Etzebeth, Pollard and Kolbe also call France home at the moment.
The opportunity was there and its great that the management team jumped at the chance to check out the training facilities, feel out the weather and playing conditions and get a taste for the crowds they will come before. The same tactics were applied in Japan as the country was well canvassed to find training facilities that suited the teams goals best.
A happy and comfortable team environment is crucial to achieving success in a tournament that spans at least 8 weeks away from home and the best way to establish this is to ensure the players get this exposure early on. 2023 is around the corner and the Boks are still looking like strong contenders for the tournament, their short stint in France will only assist in furthering their cause.