A buzz of excitement filled the team hotels of the Springbok Green and Gold squads in Cape Town on Sunday as the players arrived at camp masked up and ready to begin their preparations for the Castle Lager Springbok Showdown at DHL Newlands on Saturday, 3 October.
For the Rugby World Cup winners, it was the first time they met under the Springbok emblem since their Trophy Tour in November last year, and for the new players and young guns it was a case of soaking up the scenery as they rubbed shoulders with a few of their heroes for the first time in the national set-up.
The teams will begin their on-field preparations on Monday after having team meetings and being briefed on the COVID-19 safety protocols on Sunday.
“It was fantastic to see the excitement on the players’ faces for this occasion when they arrived at the hotel and it certainly bodes well for a great showdown on Saturday,” Jacques Nienaber, Springbok head coach and Gold team commissioner.
“One could sense the excitement and camaraderie among the Rugby World Cup-winning players to be back together for the first time since lifting the Webb Ellis Cup last year, while the new players and young guns were in great spirits and thrilled to be part of the national set-up.
“This week is going to be different for us due to the strict COVID-19 safety protocols, but fortunately the players have all been exposed to these safety guidelines at their provincial unions in the last few weeks.
“It is clear that everyone is excited to get into the swing of things when we begin our on-field training on Monday.”
The teams will kick off the week’s activities with some gym work on Monday morning, followed by light field sessions in the afternoon.
Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby Director of Rugby and Springbok Green team commissioner, said it was great for the players to get together again after such a long absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During lockdown, Jacques and his assistant coaches kept in touch with the players by means of regular virtual meetings,” said Erasmus.
“However, nothing beats that feeling of being back in an actual team environment. Apart from the few training activities, which will not be heavily loaded, we will also spend a lot of time on aligning the players in both squads regarding our team objectives for the Castle Lager Springbok Showdown.
“Everyone are excited to be together again and we are looking forward to working with the players in the build-up to Saturday’s match.”
Deon Davids and Mzwandile Stick, the respective coaches of the Gold and Green squads, will announce their match day squads on Wednesday afternoon.