Overseas players should be available if the Springboks get to play Test rugby later this year

Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber during a media conference at Southern Sun Pretoria on January 24, 2020 in Pretoria. Image: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images

If, and this is a considerable ‘if’, the Springboks get to play Test rugby later this year, they should have their overseas based players available for those engagements.

Amid lingering uncertainty brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, there had been concern that the Boks, as Rugby World Cup holders and the top ranked team in the world, would not be able to call on some of their leading lights when the game returns.

Several World Cup-winning Springboks hold contracts in Europe and Japan.

An insider told TimesLIVE that World Rugby, the game’s governing body, is working on a strategy that will ensure that the game’s top talent’s availability for when Test rugby resumes.

There, of course, are no set dates for the return of the game as governments around the world have had to put in place different restrictions to help curb the spread of the disease.

Those include border closures and other travel restrictions.

There are moves to ensure that when the Test game gets the green light, it will do so with rugby’s apex talent on display.

Player eligibility is guided by World Rugby’s regulation nine which makes provision for two distinct windows (July and November) for players, irrespective of where they play their club rugby, to represent their national team.

Those windows, which were established for the temporary release of the game’s top players from club duty, carry little consequence this year of course as the game has ground to a complete halt.

Now, the respective club seasons and Test rugby both occupy a spot in the boat uncertainty.

Once World Rugby has greater clarity around dates for the return of the Test game it can broker a deal with the clubs for the release of the players.

The clubs however have a tetchy relationship with World Rugby and an agreement cannot be taken for granted.

The Springboks were supposed to play Scotland and Georgia this month, while the Rugby Championship is due to run from August to early October.

The Springboks’ end of year tour to Italy, France, Ireland and Wales now looks highly unlikely.

BY LIAM DEL CARME

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