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Great Lakes
Last Updated: Sunday, 16 November, 2003, 16:51 GMT
Naked Springboks tested at camp
New Zealand scoring try against S Africa, Rugby World Cup
South Africans are agonising over their defeat by New Zealand
South African rugby players were subjected to naked toughening-up exercises at a gruelling boot camp before the World Cup in Australia.

Some South Africans doubt the wisdom of sending the Springboks to "Camp Steel Wire" in light of their 29-9 quarter-final defeat by New Zealand.

South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper reports that players had to strip and pump up rugby balls in a freezing lake.

The three-day "bonding" also involved crawling naked across gravel.

Despite being sworn to secrecy, two players revealed some of the military-style exercises they endured at the camp - reportedly the brainchild of security consultant Adriaan Heijns, who employed former police task force veterans.

According to the newspaper report, players who tried to get out of the freezing lake - including Springboks captain Corne Krige - were ordered back in at gunpoint.

Springboks captain Corne Krige
Without each other there was no way you could make it through
Corne Krige

The players were also abandoned in the bush at night with only an egg, a chicken and a match. They were asked to cook a meal, but not allowed to eat it.

When they were finally given a chance to sleep, they were woken every 15 minutes by gunfire.

They were also told to strip and climb into a hole, where recordings of the English national anthem and New Zealand's haka, or war-chant, were played. From time to time ice-cold water was poured over their heads.

Krige said he would not recommend some parts of the camp for future rugby training, but he added that a lot of it was really good team spirit.

The exercises were held at a location north of Pretoria in September, the paper reported.

But Ken Jennings, a South African sports psychologist, said he was "quite horrified" to learn of the activities, describing them as "a drive towards conformity and total rigidity that is based on the fear factor".

Boks drop race row pair
30 Aug 03  |  South Africa


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