Bok alignment camps set the ball rolling for Lions Series

Bok alignment camps set the ball rolling for Lions Series

With just under three-and-a-half months to go until the first test between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions, Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber realises that there is a lot of work to do following the first round of alignment camps.

Jacques Nienaber

The Bok brains trust met with players from all of the domestic franchises as part of their gradual incorporation plan going into an exciting year of international rugby.

It's common knowledge that the Springboks haven't played an international match since they lifted the World Cup trophy in Japan at the end of 2019. It was an exciting time for the coaching staff and the players to regroup after such a long absence.

“The players haven’t been together (in a Springbok setup) for more than 500 days, so there was a lot of excitement, as you can imagine,” said Nienaber.

“Just meeting face-to-face was absolutely great, because I haven’t seen some of the players since the Rugby World Cup victory tour parade in November 2019.”

Following the lengthy delay, the local franchises have played in two tournaments and one series as they prepare for the Rainbow Cup starting next weekend. From a national perspective Nienaber knows that they have a lot of work ahead of them.

“It was reality check for us in terms of where we were in 2019 and where we are currently in 2021, and where we have to turn our focus towards and improve during our preparations," he added.

With the significant international interest in the Lions Series both locally and in Britain, there were a number of extra elements that Nienaber and his team needed to cover.

“Firstly, we shared general information around commercial and marketing engagements, because this is a British & Irish Lions tour and a bit different from your normal tour.

“It was also good opportunity to work through our various team protocols again, with the Test calendar and the effects of the pandemic in mind, but we gave them a schedule with as much detail as possible.”

With sixteen months passing since the whole national group was together the coach needed to drive home the importance of the requirements that everyone involved needed to meet.

“I would say the big part of these assemblies was the reality check exercise, to see where we are as a team, not just the players, but also the whole management – with that steering our focus to the areas we have to improve,” Nienaber added.

“And another major objective was for the players to have a clear understanding of exactly what is required of them to be considered for Springbok section.”

In the big news coming from the home nations, Warren Gatland announced his coaching staff for the tour this week. The three-time Lions coach has selected Scotland head coach and former Cell C Sharks flyhalf Gregor Townsend to lead the Lions attack. 

Townsend's assistant coach at Scotland Steve Tandy will make his Lions coaching debut as the team's defence coach.

Leinster assistant coach Robin McBryde will take on the role of forwards coach while four-time Lions coach Neil Jenkins will be responsible for the kickers.


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