Why Bok standards are slipping
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Tom Bradshaw spoke to England-based Springbok Wynand Olivier about the decline of South African rugby.
South Africa are likely to suffer a continuing drain of talent unless the SA Rugby Union does a better job of looking after players.
This is the view of the 38-cap Bok, Olivier, who now plays for Worcester Warriors in the English Premiership.
He said standards are slipping not only in the national side but in the country's Super Rugby franchises.
And the former Bulls star, Olivier, believes the way to arrest the issue is for SARU to do more to retain experienced players who can nurture young talent.
South Africa currently lie seventh in World Rugby rankings, beneath Scotland and France, who are fifth and sixth respectively.
"It's sad to see South Africa slumping down in the rankings after years of dominance with New Zealand and Australia, although it's nice to see some of the Northern Hemisphere sides improving and doing well, and raising the standards of the game," said Olivier, a member of the victorious 2007 Bok World Cup squad.
"It's not just about the standards of the Springboks, it's the standards of Super Rugby in general. Some of the South African sides have been struggling quite a bit and it's sad to see that.
"Loads of experienced guys have left. In the last two to three years there hasn't been a great balance between youth and experience. The only way a youngster can learn apart from being on the pitch is to learn from experienced guys."
Citing Toulon loose forward Duane Vermeulen as an example, Olivier - who joined Worcester in 2015 from Montpellier - said: "It's been quite a struggle for some of the South African sides to keep their players there, especially competing with the pound, the euro and the yen. Over the past couple of years, hundreds of South Africans have left the shores.
"You can't blame a guy for going for the money because it's your livelihood and your business.
"I don't know what South Africa is going to do, but in some sense SARU need to take some responsibility for that and look after the players a bit.
"They just let youngsters go. They don't try and keep boys, and even if the youngsters come through they're not going to have experienced guys to learn from."
Despite a grim short-term outlook, Olivier retains some optimism for the medium term.
"SARU are working at it and trying to solve the problem. There is more than enough talent in South Africa to get out of the hole.
"I'll never stop supporting the Springboks, I want to see them do well and I'll always try and give advice where possible. What goes up must come down, and eventually the tables have to turn, hopefully."
Tom Bradshaw is a journalist based in the UK