South African rugby players will have to meet more stringent fitness levels and will be more closely monitored in coming years. That was the outcome of a meeting of the country’s Super Rugby franchise fitness coaches in Cape Town on Wednesday.

Poor player conditioning has been a concern for various Springbok coaches in recent seasons. In 2015, only seven of 49 players chosen for a provisional Bok World Cup squad passed initial fitness tests, which infuriated then coach Heyneke Meyer.

Before November’s Bok tour to Britain and Italy, only two players – lock Pieter-Steph du Toit and scrumhalf Piet van Zyl – passed fitness tests before the squad departed.

The Springboks lost all three Tests on tour and drew against a makeshift Barbarians team in a non-Test match. In 2016, the Springboks lost eight of 12 Tests – their worst return in the
professional era.

Lack of conditioning is a concerning reflection of the state of conditioning practices at unions, but an even worse indictment of players’ responsibilities when it comes to maintaining their own fitness standards.

Members who attended the workshop agreed to establish physical preparation standards for players, the continuous monitoring of players and also the management of player-training loads.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee, with Springbok strength and conditioning coach Dr Warren Adams and other senior SA Rugby staff, attended the performance-enhancement workshop along with strength and conditioning coaches of the six Super Rugby franchises at SA Rugby’s headquarters.

The franchise strength and conditioning coaches who met with Coetzee and his coaching staff on Wednesday were Stephan du Toit (Stormers), Johan Pretorius (Sharks), Quintin Kruger (Cheetahs), Ivan van Rooyen (Lions), Nardus Nieuwoudt (Southern Kings) and Henri-Charl Terblanche (The Bulls).

The ground-breaking coaches’ indaba, which was hosted in Cape Town two months ago, was designed to plot a new direction for Springbok rugby and one of the upshots of that gathering was to host a workshop to specifically discuss the conditioning of the players based in SA.

Sean Surmon, who is head of high performance at Maties Sport, facilitated the workshop. Dr Adams will now table the outcomes of the conditioning workshop for discussion at the next coaches’ indaba on December 12 in Cape Town.

Coetzee described the meeting as very productive and confirmed there would be continuous collaborative interactions throughout 2017.

Coetzee said he was "very excited about the expertise that was evident from everyone" at the workshop.

TMG Digital

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