Two former SA Schools backline players Jaco van Walt (Monument & SAS 2011) and Duhan van der Merwe (Outeniqua & SAS 2012/3) could soon be Scottish internationals.
The two key Edinburgh players have just started the new Pro14 season amidst uncertainty about the participation of South African teams. They were also named in the Guiness Pro14 Dream Team of the 2019/20 season.
Towards the end of October 2020, there are hopes of completing the Six Nations, which was halted much earlier in the year due to coronavirus related events. Of the two Jock-Boks, big wing Duhan van der Merwe who is the younger brother of Springbok hooker Akker, has already qualified for Scotland based on residency and stands an excellent chance of being called up by head coach Gregor Townsend for Scotland’s last remaining match against Wales. The move to the Northern Hemisphere has proven to be the right one for van der Merwe, as the former Blue Bull appeared to be going nowhere in his career while he was based in Pretoria.
Jaco van der Walt arrived in Scotland in 2018 and will be eligible for test selection in November 2020. Having a quality player like 28-year-old flyhalf Finn Russell in the mix, is bound to make the former Golden Lions’ path to the top a much more challenging one but time is on his side and his form has been good. Had he stayed in South Africa, one cannot help but believe that circumstances brought about by first choice Bok’s flyhalf Handre Pollard’s long term injury might have played handsomely into van der Walt’s hands, as none of the domestic based candidates from his country of birth have been convincing in their attempts to nail-down the vacancy.
Interestingly Gregor Townsend who already has the services of two South African props in the form of Allan Dell (Queen’s & SAS 2010) and WP Nel (HTS Drostdy) at his disposal, will also be able to add Ollie Kebble if need be. Like Dell, the son of former Springbok Guy Kebble was part of SA Baby Bok under-20 team that lifted the World Rugby Championship trophy back in 2012. He will be available for Scotland from October 2020.
Scotland, like Italy and Japan, suffer from a lack of depth and are therefore very dependent on imported players to help retain a respectable international rugby record.
Here is South African born XV who qualify to ply their trade for other nations at test level. Worth noting is that far few opportunities seem to have come about for backs from the Republic when compared to the demand for forwards to help plug the holes.
- *denotes – uncapped