Strauss ends his Test career in defeat after latest Springbok loss
Outgoing Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss ended his Test career in a dignified manner‚ refusing to lash out at obvious problems within the team in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s 27-13 loss to Wales.
Defeat at the Millennium Stadium condemned the Boks to their eighth loss in 2016 and their first winless northern hemisphere tour since 2002.
It was also statistically the worst season in Bok history in terms of defeats in a calendar year.
Strauss‚ who announced his international retirement on September 1‚ played his 66th and final Test at the weekend.
Strauss refused to identify issues that face rugby in SA unlike coach Allister Coetzee‚ who has repeatedly bemoaned the structures in South African rugby and attempted to lay the blame at the door of provincial unions.
With over 300 players based in Europe‚ poor skills development and fitness levels and an increasingly strained player base with six Super Rugby franchises‚ there are real issues to deal with at a structural level.
Strauss wants to be part of the solution and wasn’t willing to take swipes at the coach‚ his team or SA Rugby in public.
“I would like to contribute to solutions for SA rugby‚” Strauss said. “I’m not a sports administrator or a coach and that’s not my ambition.
“I will reserve my opinions for a platform where they need to be heard‚ and when I get that chance I will do so honestly and openly and be ruthless with the truth.
“I’m not looking for controversy so I won’t throw out statements about what needs to change right now. When I get my opportunity at the place and time I will make my contribution.
“I’m a player and I respect my position as a player‚ but I’m also the captain. I was happy that some of the players and I were invited to a meeting with senior SA Rugby officials while on tour.
“And we have been invited to future meetings as well.
“No fingers can be pointed at one person. We are all responsible for the situation Springbok rugby is in‚ from the bottom of the ladder to the top. We are now in an ideal situation for change and for accountability from all parties.
“We can start make productive and constructive changes and I would like to be a part of that.”
Strauss admitted that the season of captaincy had been demanding but that he never shirked his duty.
“It’s been a massive challenge this year but I accepted it and that day I became accountable‚” Strauss said.
“I’m not hoping for a pity party because not only do I take responsibility‚ I am also responsible and accountable.
“I will do the best I can in the coming months to help improve the situation. I did everything I could this year despite making mistakes‚ which I knew I would‚ I put the Springboks first and gave it my all.
“I would like to be part of something that can produce change. I have learnt a lot about myself.”
Coetzee praised Strauss’ contribution to the team and to SA Rugby.
“Adriaan just played his last Test and before the match we discussed his legacy and how he would be remembered‚” Coetzee said.
“The big thing for me is that I wouldn’t have wanted any other captain‚ and there isn’t any other captain in South Africa that could have handled the pressure like he has this season.
“I want to pay tribute to him and congratulate him for holding his nerve during a very tough season. I’m sure he will contribute to solutions in the future.”