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Thousands of young boys dream of playing for their country. Few will don the green and gold despite prodigious amounts of talent, passion and dedication. So, what does it take to make it as a Bok? Imagine for a moment that the Springbok set-up is a factory where the player is the 'finished product' coming off the assembly line.
Imagine a Springbok as a finished product coming off a factory assembly line. What are the components required? And what does it take for them to cohere into a successful team? Author Liz McGregor spent two years behind the scenes interviewing the players, coaches, wives and girlfriends, mothers and teachers. She also spoke to the Bok doctor and physiotherapist, the sponsors, brand managers and the logistics guy. And then theres the boss, the South African Rugby Union. What she discovered is as fascinating as it is complex: that parents play a crucial role, as do those early coaches and teachers who identify and nurture talent; that injury lurks behind every corner; that it takes incredible courage to go back onto the field to face another battering; and that the business of the Springboks is one that is both well and poorly managed, depending where you look. By the end of her journey, McGregor had developed a deep regard for the players and many of the people who work to put the best team South Africa can offer onto the field. Nelson Mandela showed how a Springbok team can unite a nation.
But there are parts of the Springbok Factory that are in urgent need of repair or, indeed, replacement.