Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has said South Africa was ready to host the remainder of the Rugby Championship, as the competition’s organisers scramble for a venue for the rest of this year’s matches in the coming days.
The Springboks have been told they cannot enter New Zealand for two tests in late September due to COVID-19 travel restrictions there, while the All Blacks have said they will not travel to Perth to face Australia next weekend.
It has thrown the future of the competition into doubt, but Nienaber believes South Africa’s lessons from recently hosting the British & Irish Lions for an eight-match series, including three tests, and Argentina for their opening two games of the Rugby Championships, means they have all protocols in place.
“We would love to host, it would be good for the country,” Nienaber told reporters after Saturday’s 29-10 victory over Argentina in Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth.
“We have showed that in a pandemic we can host. We have the protocols in place. But wherever it is the safest, and where we can get continuity in the tournament, we will play. We will play anywhere.”
The Springboks cruised to the win on Saturday, but a poor final 20 minutes saw them spurn a number of chances to earn a bonus-point try through errors at the set-piece.
“It wasn’t perfect if you look at the opportunities we created at the back end of the second half,” Nienaber said.
“But this team has been playing now, if you take the South Africa ‘A’ game against the Lions, for six test matches on the trot. At this level, with this intensity, it takes its toll.”
Nienaber added that the decision to bring less experienced players off the bench was a factor but that the overall goal is retaining the World Cup in 2023 and the need to grow their pool of talent.
“Our strategic goals will always be to win the Rugby Championship but looking into the future to 2023, you have to get experience into the broader squad,” Nienaber said.
Nienaber also said he was nervous this week about the win against a feisty Argentina, having claimed the first game 32-12 at the same venue.
“The pressure that we put on ourselves as a squad, I was very nervous of this test match and I thought the players were unbelievable in terms of how they stood up,” he said.