Coming off the back of a record defeat to the All Blacks, Springbok number eight Duane Vermeulen has sensationally spoken out against the rugby system in his country.
“We need an intervention and I can’t sit silently on the side and say nothing anymore.”
South Africa have had a particularly bad year in 2016, having won just four of their nine Test matches, including their first ever loss to Ireland at home, and their first ever loss to Argentina away.
With barely a word coming from the Springboks camp since the devastating 57-15 loss to New Zealand, Vermeulen has taken it upon himself to speak out in a hope for change.
“It was ugly watching the game on Saturday,” he said. “We need an intervention and I can’t sit silently on the side and say nothing anymore.”
“We were a powerhouse in world rugby and I feel it is my duty to also make a stand and say something on the record about the situation.
The 30-year old has played 37 Tests for his country but believes himself and the players are being disrespected and ignored by those in power.
“It all starts at the top. And that is chaos at the moment,” he said.
“I don’t know how much respect there is for players anymore.
“I feel for them and it’s partially our fault because we stay silent. But it also starts at the top and we need clear and decisive leadership.”
South African rugby has a planned coaches indaba coming up later in October to address many of the grievances surrounding the state of the game in their country.
And while many believe it is a step in the right direction, including Vermeulen, he warns caution against the people in charge, where ego should be put aside in favour of progression.
“I believe that this coaching indaba is the best thing we can do right now. But I know from experience that the arrogance of some coaches in SA might be a problem.”
“At this meeting, everyone must say what they want to say‚ but in the end, we have to reach a common goal about how we as South Africans want to play the game.”
He wasn’t just critical in his words, though.
The big man, who is (or now was) slated to return to the South African squad for their tour of Britain and Italy in November, has a vision for the future and implores that those running the game see it.
“Hopefully from this, we will find a style that South Africans will play from junior levels all the way through to the Springboks.”
“Every detail from set pieces‚ attack and defence must be defined and set out in a plan and everyone must play the same. In that way, we will improve our skills and ability.”
“By doing that we will improve our coaching structures and give coaches a pathway to higher honours as well.”
How South African will respond to this is anyone’s guess at this stage.
While Vermeulen will no doubt have the backing of his teammates, those who run the system he has criticised may not be so positive.