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Springbok rugby secrets laid bare

Springbok captain Corne Krige suffers again, this time the agony of defeat at the hands of NZ.
Springbok captain Corne Krige suffers again, this time the agony of defeat at the hands of NZ.

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(CNN) -- Crawling naked across gravel, being threatened at gunpoint, starved, frozen and humiliated – welcome to rugby training South African style.

Members of the national Springbok rugby team, which bowed out of the Rugby World Cup in the quarterfinals, have broken ranks and revealed the extreme measures team management took to mentally prepare the players.

Details of the bizarre training tactics were contained in a front-page article in the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times newspaper.

Two players, whose identities were not revealed, have talked about the three-day "Kamp Staaldraad" (Camp Steel Wire) that took place shortly after the World Cup squad was named in September.

According to the newspaper, on arriving at the camp the players were met by former SA Police Services Task Force members and made to strip naked and leopard-crawl across gravel before getting dressed and repeating the exercise.

They were then made to work through the night carrying tyres, poles and bags branded with England and New Zealand flags. Only those who excelled were allowed food the next morning.

Later, the players were ordered naked into a freezing lake to pump up rugby balls underwater. Players who tried to get out, among them captain Corné Krige, were allegedly pointed back in at gunpoint, the paper said.

On the second night of the camp, players were dropped off individually in the bush to spend the night on their own.

They were each given a chicken, an egg and half a match with which to prepare a meal, which they were told not to eat. The next morning the eggs were broken on players' heads to test if they were cooked.

Raised eyebrows

The Springboks were also crammed naked into a hole and subjected to the English anthem and New Zealand haka repeatedly as well as being doused with icy water.

Earlier revelations about the strict and Spartan conditions the South Africans endured once they made it to Australia for the tournament had already raised eyebrows in rugby circles.

But these details will further cast doubt on the South African rugby management's decisions, particularly in the light of the team's early departure at the hands of the New Zealand All Blacks.

Without divulging details of the camp, Krige told the newspaper earlier that there were certain parts of the camp that he would recommend not be included for future rugby training.

"It was trial and error. You go through certain things and decide 'these are good and maybe these aren't so good'. Most of the stuff was really good for team spirit," Krige said.


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