JOHANNESBURG — We’re just seven and a half weeks away from the Springboks’ first Test match under coach Rassie Erasmus, and the man who also wears the hat of SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby is making sure he knows who’s at his disposal. It’s not clear what happens at an “alignment camp”, but Erasmus has held two of them so far, and he says he’s happy that “everyone will be aligned” – whatever that may mean. No doubt he’s been watching the Super Rugby and Top 14 matches involving South African teams, but the form of the various local franchises has been somewhat topsy-turvy and one has to wonder if he’s able to gauge the current strength of local rugby. The top-performing Lions have been described as a Jekyll and Hyde team given their recent series of narrow losses and runaway victories. Has Erasmus been able to identify the core of the squad that will take South Africa through the upcoming series of internationals – the one-off against Wales in Washington and then the three-Test home series against England? At least we know the alignment process is going well. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
The second Springbok alignment camp concluded on Wednesday in Vanderbijlpark with Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, expressing his satisfaction with the progress of the team’s preparations for the forthcoming international season.
Erasmus and the Springbok management team held two alignment camps to date, with a final one planned for Durban in two weeks’ time – from 22 to 25 April.
A combined group of 22 players from the DHL Stormers and Emirates Lions attended the second camp over the past four days at the Riverside Resort in Vanderbijlpark, south of Johannesburg. The Springbok management are using the three alignment camps to accelerate preparations for the forthcoming international season.
Speaking after the conclusion of the second camp, Erasmus said the Springbok management are very pleased with the amount of work they were able to get through with the large group at the recent camp.
“We were able to work with a combined total of 34 players from three different franchises during the first two camps,” said Erasmus.
“I am sure that after the final camp, we would have covered a lot of groundwork with most of the players we have in mind for the June internationals.
“The sessions are very intense and we are confident that everyone – players, coaching staff and the various franchise team representatives who sat in during all the sessions – will all be aligned and have a clear picture of our plans for Wales and England after these camps.
— Rassie Erasmus (@coachrassie) April 1, 2018
“I want to reiterate that the success of the June Tests will be determined by how the Springbok coaching staff and the players follow through on what was agreed upon at the camps when the players are back at their franchise teams.”
Several coaching staff members of the Emirates Lions and the DHL Stormers were also present at the second camp.
Swys de Bruin (head coach) and Ivan van Rooyen (conditioning coach) from the Emirates Lions coaches who joined their players at the planning and technical sessions, while the DHL Stormers’ Russell Winter (assistant coach), Paul Treu (assistant coach) and Steph du Toit (conditioning coach) were also present.
Last week’s first assembly at the same venue comprised of 12 Vodacom Bulls players. No on-field activities take place during the camps and the focus of the various sessions is exclusively on alignment, which will ensure a smooth transition from Vodacom Super Rugby to the Springboks when the squad gets together for the June internationals.
The Springboks start their international commitments with a clash against Wales in Washington DC on Saturday, 2 June. They then return immediately after to South Africa to face England in the Castle Lager Incoming Series, which will comprise three Tests on consecutive weekends.
Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg will host the series opener on 9 June, while the second Test takes place on 16 June at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein, and the final match in the series will be contested a week later at DHL Newlands in Cape Town.