Following news that only overseas-based Boks with more than 30 caps will soon be eligible for selection, we pick out six players affected.
Announced by the Executive Council of SA Rugby in Cape Town on Friday, the policy will come into force from July 1, 2017, in a decision they hope will help stem the tide of young South African talent heading abroad to pastures new and the financial lure that comes with it.
Here we look at six Boks who have already, or will soon leave the Republic’s shores and see how the new law may affect them in July.
Vincent Koch (9): Arrived at Saracens in the off-season on a two-year contract from the Stormers after impressing for the Cape Town side since he joined them from the Pumas. The 26-year-old is an excellent tighthead who was pushing hard for Springbok starts before heading north. Should he remain abroad he would be a big loss to South African rugby.
Steven Kitshoff (10): Another young front-row, loosehead prop Kitshoff arguably should have accrued more than the 10 caps he has after impressive efforts for Western Province and the Stormers during his time at Newlands. The 25-year-old is at Bordeaux-Bègles in the first of a two-year deal, with the new rule leaving him with a dilemma about his future.
Cobus Reinach (10): The most recent Springbok set to depart South Africa, Reinach’s switch to Northampton was announced on Monday, but the length of his contract wasn’t confirmed. A devastating scrum-half who has just returned from injury, his 10 caps means he’s also unavailable. However, he is currently arguably third choice Springbok nine.
Marcell Coetzee (28): A special talent, who recently returned to the field after working his way back from a serious knee injury, the 28-times capped back-row forward will be unavailable for Bok duty on July 1 if he doesn’t add two caps to his name in the June Tests. Surely he will do as the Springboks do not want to lose this abrasive 25-year-old.
Arno Botha (2): Botha is another impressive back-row to come off the South African conveyer belt but he will join Coetzee at Ulster on a two-year deal at the end of Super Rugby 2017, it was announced recently. The Bulls said they could not compete with the package offered by Ulster as Botha is set to move on – a problem heard all too often.
Johan Goosen (13): Perhaps the most uncertain Springbok affected by the rule, as it is not yet known where Goosen will be playing his rugby in the future, if anywhere at all. Capped 13 times, the versatile back retired in December, leaving Racing 92 under a cloud but could he return at a club abroad? We wait to see how this story plays out.