It’s no secret that South African rugby is in the midst of a rugby talent drain, the likes of which we have never seen before.
At one point it was older ‘Bok players, with many caps behind their name, who headed overseas for a final season or two to cash in, but now our most promising players are being plucked right out of high school.
The reasons for this aren’t as simple as just cash (or ‘quotas’), which was something that Rais Frost touched on in his excellent Stellenbosch Business School thesis.
Bryan Habana insists the Springboks’ talent drain is not down to money, revealing many South African stars move abroad in search of a better life.
World Cup-winner Habana does not expect World Rugby’s extended five-year residency rule to keep top prospects in South Africa – because of the country’s unique political tribulations.
That five-year rule, by the way, means you must be a resident of a country for five years before you are eligible to represent the national team. The previous time-frame was three years.
Back to Habana:
[He] insisted South Africa’s crime levels and the continued politicisation of rugby will keep pushing top players to seek moves abroad.
“I think a lot of people outside South Africa don’t understand that there are a number of unique things happening in South Africa at the moment,” Habana said.
“Not only from a rugby point of view, but from a political, economic and safety point of view.
“A lot people think rugby players go overseas to gain money, to gain a residency in another country, but there are so many different factors which people take into consideration.”
That being said, he does acknowledge that the transformation charter will weigh on many minds:
“A lot of youngsters might move given the transformation charter which has been put down from a political point of view,” Habana said.
“It wasn’t just South African Rugby saying we are putting a transformation plan in place, it was put on the union.
“It’s such an intricate thing that if you don’t come from South Africa then you’ll never understand it.
“When these youngsters move, it’s not just about leaving South African shores, it’s about taking your future into consideration.”
Given our political climate, which has a habit of spilling over into our national sports setup, it’s tough to point a finger at those who leave.
Seventh in the world rankings – they say the only way is up but I’m not so sure.
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