Alan Solomons (Getty Images)
- Former Bok assistant coach Alan Solomons is concerned over South African rugby continuing to lose players to overseas clubs.
- While 2020’s domestic programme has featured full-strength squads, Solomons believes local rugby will eventually struggle with depth issues on home soil.
- As Worcester’s director of rugby, the 70-year-old has seven South Africans on his books.
Former Springbok assistant coach Alan Solomons has become the latest prominent voice to express concern over the continued exodus of South African players to Europe.
Towering Cheetahs lock JP du Preez has become the latest local player to join the English Premiership after signing for Sale Sharks, who boast an incredible 10 other South Africans in their playing group including Springboks such as Faf de Klerk, Coenie Oosthuizen, Lood de Jager, Akker van der Merwe and the Du Preez brothers.
It means no less than 44 South Africans are currently plying their trade in England’s premier competition.
“I don’t think it is healthy for a country to be losing that number of players. When players do leave it certainly does affect your domestic competition and South Africa is a breeding ground for good rugby players, but what is important is to have a blend between youth and experience,” Solomons was quoted as saying by RugbyPass.
“That helps the development of young talent along with playing in strong competitions. Domestically, when there is such an outflow of players, then it affects the game.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a positive spin-off in that Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup has featured full-strength squads, but it’s too early to tell if the situation is more than just temporary.
Ironically, Solomons – who also coached the Stormers and Southern Kings – has seven South Africans on his books at Worcester Warriors, where he’s director of rugby, though only Francois Hougaard and Francois Venter have played at international level.
Despite the high number of imports in his squad, the 70-year-old veteran coach insists that it hasn’t hampered the development of his local English players.
“It’s about getting the balance right and for us it is about having a core Worcester identity and the core come from our academy, which is fantastic.
“You also have that blend with players from outside, be it South Africa or New Zealand, because that diversity enriches the mix and makes you stronger. We have a good balance with players coming from outside,” he said.
“From a (South African) international perspective those players outside the country are playing at a high level, like Faf de Klerk and the three Du Preez brothers at Sale. With that good level of competition, we have seen how they were able to adjust and we saw that step up at the World Cup in Japan.”
– Compiled by Sport24 staff