Just when we thought Springbok rugby could not sink any further into the abyss, sadly, it did.
The loss to Japan at the World Cup last year shocked South Africans to our very core. But still the team recovered to finish third, losing narrowly in the semis to eventual winners New Zealand.
But while the All Blacks have since gotten progressively stronger, South African rugby has regressed to such an extent that answers are tough to come by. Normally, one could isolate the problem, remedy it and get matters back on track.
But there is no quick-fix for Springboks’ performance in the last 12 months or so.
The whole system is retarded to the extent that we cannot even beat Italy anymore.
And as the Boks are finding out, in cases like these it is very difficult to keep one’s back free of knives.
Yes, coach Allister Coetzee, his staff and captain Adriaan Strauss need to shoulder some of the blame.
Yes, some of the senior players in the team have not been up to it.
But the problem runs deeper than just that and if we do not get the structures right, our rugby looks headed for a fall reminiscent of the way in which the mighty West Indian cricket team crashed over two decades ago.
Former Bok coach and TV analyst Nick Mallett hit the nail on the head when he said the overseas player drain is a major cause of South Africa’s fall from grace.
At last count, there were 300 South African rugby players plying their trade in England, France and Japan.
Before South African players would opt for a retirement package overseas. These days many of our best players are lured across the pond by much higher salaries.
We need to make sure our best coaches are taking charge of our provincial and franchise teams.
The Lions are the only franchise side to have evolved from the archaic South African style.
The Stormers lost at home in Super Rugby’s quarterfinals, the Sharks were hammered away and the other three franchises could not make the playoffs.
The problems are deep rooted.
So before we consider bringing the Springboks home in a submarine with the windows open, we need to understand and accept that the South African game needs a serious overhaul from top to bottom.