The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Secret Springbok war-drill exposed

Johannesburg: Springbok players were forced to strip naked and ordered around at gunpoint in a bizarre effort to prepare them for the Rugby World Cup in Australia, the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times reported.

“Despite being sworn to secrecy, two players have talked about the three-day ‘Camp Staaldraad (Camp Steel Wire) that took place at a location some two hours drive north of Pretoria in September,” the newspaper said in a front-page article Sunday.

“On arrival, the players were made to strip naked and leopard-crawl across gravel before getting dressed and repeating the exercise,” it said.

One Springbok said players were taken into the African bush, where they had to do physical labour, carrying tyres, poles and bags – all branded with England and New Zealand flags.

“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 Corne Krige, were allegedly pointed back at gunpoint,” the Sunday Times said.

On their last night, players were dropped off individually in the bush, to spend the night on their own, while given half-a-match and egg with instructions to cook it.

They were also told to strip and climb into a hole.

“There was little room for movement and recordings of the England anthem and New Zealand haka played for hours,” the report said, adding that “the cover on the hole had periodically been lifted and ice water thrown on the men.”

“They spent the rest of the camp carrying out special task force survival stunts like jumping into the lake from a helicopter,” the paper said.

South Africa’s 9-29 quarter final defeat by New Zealand at Docklands Stadium a week ago was the first time in their three World Cups that the Springboks had failed to get beyond the last eight.

Their exit has prompted calls for wholesale changes, including the head of coach Rudolf Straeuli, who has dodged questions surrounding his possible resignation.

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