Rugby Championship: Former Springboks captain Wynand Claassen calls for South Africa to skip the tournament

  • 13/09/2020

Former Springboks captain Wynand Claassen believes South Africa should skip this year's Rugby Championship, saying it would be "madness" if they take part in the tournament.

On Friday SANZAAR announced Australia would host the tournament, with World Rugby approving the playing window of November 7 to December 12. 

Even though SANZAAR approved the competition, chief executive Andy Marinos admitted South Africa's participation was dependent on several factors outside its control.

In the past fortnight, South Africa's players have only just resumed contact training, compared to the likes of the All Blacks and Wallabies players who have got game-time under their belts following domestic Super Rugby competitions. 

Claassen, who captained South Africa during the 'Rebel Tour' of New Zealand, believes travelling to Australia to compete in the Rugby Championship will not be in the best interest of the Springboks, and instead, they should put all their focus on getting ready for next year's British & Irish Lions tour. 

He fears if they go into the tournament under-prepared, it could damage all the hard work they've done over the last three years to rebuild their reputation. 

"I honestly believe they should not play in the Championship; it simply doesn't make any sense to me," Classen told South African newspaper The Citizen. 

"If one thinks that New Zealand and Australia have been playing their domestic rugby for the last two months and our rugby hasn't even restarted yet, we would definitely be under-prepared.

"What will happen if we again give 50 points away to New Zealand, like what happened in 2016 and 2017; who will be blamed?

"We've got more to lose by playing in the Championship. We must remember that we are the World Cup champs, the No.1 ranked team in the world, and the Rugby Championship holders.

"One has to understand that because of COVID-19 we haven't been able to restart our local game but it is what it is and we just have to move on and forget about the Rugby Championship for this year.

"SA Rugby must just take a stand and decide what is in the best interests of the 'Boks and their legacy. Yes, money talks, but it's not all about money; there are many more factors at play."

Rugby Championship: Former Springboks captain Wynand Claassen calls for South Africa to skip the tournament

While New Zealand and Australia have been relatively successful in combatting the spread of the pandemic, their rugby rivals have struggled, with South Africa (640,000) and Argentina (520,000) ranking among the top 10 countries in terms of coronavirus cases reported.

In recent days, 13 Pumas players - along with head coach Mario Ledesma - have tested positive for COVID-19.

Before the Rugby Championship, the All Blacks are set to play two Bledisloe Cup tests against the Wallabies in New Zealand next month. 

Newshub understands that head coach Ian Foster will add another 11 players to his current squad for the Rugby Championship, which will bring the total number to 46.

Foster intends to wait as long as possible before announcing the additional group to give Mitre 10 Cup players an opportunity to stake their claim for selection.