We’ve all seen those game shows where you have the option of taking the money or opening the mystery box.
My first introduction to this sort of thing was probably Telly Fun Quiz back in the day.
The safe option was always taking the money. But when they open the box to reveal what could have been and it’s a big one, you feel the whap-whap-whaaaaap (sad trombone) of the contestant.
Anyway, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) is facing such a decision this week: put the Boks first and pull out of this year’s Rugby Championship or take the money and send an undercooked national team to Australia for the tournament.
It’s probably the toughest decision these guys had to make in years.
Hell, I reckon it’s probably the toughest decision they’ve had to make in 25 years.
The reason for that is that there are a lot of elements at play and that’s why tournament organisers Sanzaar have given South Africa extra time to make the call.
A Saru press release on the weekend read: “The Springboks’ ability to participate in the Rugby Championship would be finalised early next week.”
Monday came. Nothing. Tuesday. Nothing.
In my books Wednesday is midweek and then they finally announced: “Sanzaar member unions have agreed to provide SA Rugby with an additional 48 hours to finalise its internal stakeholder discussions on participation.”
I’ve written about the rugby reasons as to why I don’t think the Boks should play in the tournament, so I will use former Springbok coach Jake White to explain it in his words.
Asked whether the Boks should play in the southern hemisphere showpiece, White was quoted as saying: “I understand fully that it’s not the ideal preparation, and probably if I was the coach, I would be asking SA Rugby to try and find ways in which we probably don’t participate – because it’s a bit unfair.
“There are players here who have played one or two games of rugby who all of a sudden have to go into a Rugby Championship.
“You are coming up against some of the best players in the world, and they have played constantly.
“Australia and New Zealand have played rugby over the last three or four months.”
White knows, though, that it’s not only about rugby.
This game is also played at boardroom level and it’s here where you don’t want to run the risk of upsetting sponsors and also lose money by not playing.
He adds: “I would also understand that there are other things that come into play.
“Firstly, we are the current holders of that tournament. Secondly, there are television rights, etc.
“So, I can understand that if you are sitting in the boardroom and you are doing the sums, you would have a perception of what should happen, and if you are a coach, then you have another perception. It’s a difficult one.”
White’s assessment is on the money – pun intended.
But where does that leave Saru? Do you risk losing your tag as the most feared team in the world for money?
If you don’t play, you run the risk of not having had your national team together for a championship before next year’s Lions tour. I wouldn’t want to be the one flipping that coin.
All things considered – contracts that have to be played, sponsors that have to be given airtime, TV money that must come our way, I believe we will see the Boks Down Under next month.
Whether they will have the same spring in their step as the team that won the World Cup last year is highly debatable.
With Super Rugby Unlocked having started last weekend, it’s clear that these guys still need some time to get back to their top level.
The best Rassie Erasmus and his selectors can do is to call on a plethora of overseas-based stars, mixed with some experience back home.
I reckon it’s a case of selling your soul to the devil and we all know the old saying: “Money (I would like to replace this with Mammon) makes the world go round”.
Good luck Boks, stay strong and bite the bullet… at least there will be a paycheck in the mailbox.