Rassie Erasmus, please give Ruan Ackermann a call and let him know that he will be a Springbok. Before England pick him up to play international rugby, says Mark Keohane.
South Africa needs to secure the services of Ruan Ackermann before he becomes another foreign import who instead of aiding the Springbok cause, becomes a South African competitor. In our latest show for SA Rugby Magazine, myself, Zelim and Ollie discuss Ackermann’s situation and look at the rest of the South African talent taking over the northern hemisphere.
Ruan Ackermann in his time at Gloucester has grown as a player, and grown in an environment without his father as head coach. His growth and success has also come in one of rugby’s toughest domestic competitions globally in the English Premiership. Since leaving the Lions and embracing England as home base, Ackermann has consistently been a standout loose forward among the many internationals who play across the Premiership.
And while South African locals forget with such ease the likes of Ackermann (a talented player who went overseas early), he has not for a moment forgotten his dream of playing for the Springboks. Ackermann, in chatting to SA Rugby Magazine, said that while it would be an honour to play for England, he has never stopped wanting to be a Springbok. The fact that he has come into his best rugby in England does not mean that he should be written off for international inclusion in South Africa, and it would be terribly amiss in a season in which Ackermann is in the form of his life, to risk losing him to England. Especially when he is explicit in his desire to still represent his home country.
Ackermann is among a host of South African players performing in the top ten percent in the northern hemisphere, especially as a loose forward – just think the Du Preez brothers, Jasper Wiese and Marco Van Staden. But all these players have already been blooded as Springboks, and South Africa can rest easy knowing that they will offer their services to the Boks for what should still be long and illustrious careers. That comfort isn’t there yet with Ackermann, who has qualified for England via World Rugby’s residency law, and at any minute could get a call from Eddie Jones and be lured by the lights of Twickenham because South Africa never bothered to call.
Rassie, Jacques, don’t let that happen. Get on that phone to Ackermann as soon as possible to let the kid know that he is in the mix.