The Springbok rugby season 2022 started to take shape after SA Rugby announced their alignment camps prior to final squad selection and the start of training sessions.
Purpose of alignment sessions
The alignment sessions prior to the start of Springbok rugby season 2022 are aimed at exposing experienced internationals as well as uncapped players to the Springbok culture as well as the plans for 2022. Players in the UK and Europe will attend virtual sessions. Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber had words of encouragement for players not selected for the alignment camps:
“It is also important to emphasize that being invited to these camps by no means is a guarantee of selection for the Castle Lager Incoming Tour squad, but rather an opportunity for the players to start switching into the mindset required for the international season.”
The content above is courtesy of SA Rugby.
Springbok rugby season 2022
The 2o22 season will be important for a number of reasons. The least of these would be to show too much of their hand before the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France. Ryan Jordan highlights two that are relevant in the year before the Rugby World Cup.
The importance of this Springbok rugby season
The focus in 2022 has to be the build-up to the Rugby World Cup in 2023. Does this open the door for younger, inexperienced players or will it be the same old, same old?
The overdue blooding of younger players
Springbok Head Coach Jacques Nienaber has been very reluctant to hand out “cheap” Springbok caps. The downside to this is that a serious injury to a key player leaves the team exposed if the backup players are inexperienced. The example we can use here is the Willie le Roux and Aphelele Fassi conversation. In this example, Le Roux’s form is not the discussion point. What is under consideration is if he gets injured in the first game of the Rugby World Cup. Fassi has not been given game time in the position. The Springboks will likely use Damian Willemse in this role then. This would negate the development curve he has been on to fill the role previously held by Frans Steyn. One player covering three positions. Flyhalf, inside center and fullback. Frans Steyn could well still be around at the time of the Rugby World Cup, but at 36 years of age, he is more likely to be the mainstay of the team to take on the “minnow” teams.
The same could be said of younger players such as Elrich Louw and Evan Roos. Jasper Wiese hasn’t been the revelation that everyone was expecting at number 8. Using the same example we did with Willie le Roux, what if Duane Vermeulen is injured? The same applies to the two flyhalves who have shared ownership of the number ten jersey. Who stands next in line? The answer would once again be Willemse, with the same problem of losing a player covering multiple positions as he becomes a specialist in one. Nienaber has hinted that he could also use Cheslin Kolbe at flyhalf as he has played that role for his French club Toulon. Kolbe is world-class in the back three and can certainly fill a gap at flyhalf in international rugby, but could a Rugby World Cup challenge be built around him?
The change in squad size for Rugby World Cup
The scenario above is based on the successful Springbok 2019 formula using players who can cover more than one position. A change in the Rugby World Cup squad size might come into play when the Springbok squad is announced for the tournament. That is still a long way out, but that does affect planning during the year. The tournament squad size has increased from 31 to 33. That doesn’t sound like much, but it does allow for a little more specialization in squad selection.
When the time comes, do expect a surprise or two when squads are announced for the Springbok rugby season 2022. Those surprises will hopefully address the concerns many have about who will play in the Rugby World Cup and deliver a successful campaign.
The confirmed itinerary for 2022
Castle Lager Incoming Series fixtures:
Saturday, 2 July: Springboks v Wales – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Saturday, 9 July: Springboks v Wales – Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Saturday, 16 July: Springboks v Wales – DHL Stadium, Cape Town
Castle Lager Rugby Championship fixtures:
Saturday, 6 August: Springboks v New Zealand – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Saturday, 13 August: Springboks v New Zealand – Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Saturday, 27 August: Springboks v Australia – venue TBC
Saturday, 3 September: Springboks v Australia – venue TBC
Saturday, 17 September: Springboks v Argentina – Vélez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires
Saturday, 24 September: Springboks v Argentina – Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban
Saturday, 5 November: Ireland v Springboks
Saturday, 12 November: France v Springboks
Saturday, 19 November: Italy v Springboks
Saturday, 26 November: England v Springboks
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