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Matfield comeback halted by IRB law

Matfield comeback halted by IRB law

Former South Africa lock Victor Matfield's hopes of making a comeback have been dealt a blow by the International Rugby Board's anti-doping regulations, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) said on Thursday. By Ken Borland 

New Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was considering Matfield for the three-test series against England next month despite the 35-year-old announcing his retirement after last year’s World Cup.

An IRB rule states that a player who has announced his retirement may not play international rugby for six months after his comeback in order to prevent players suddenly returning to the game once illegal drugs are out of their system.

“We have discussed the option, but the International Rugby Board’s regulations counted against us,” Saru chief executive Jurie Roux told Reuters on Thursday.

“We would be keen to use Victor’s outstanding knowledge and have not ruled out the option of using it in some other way in the future.”

With the series happening in the middle of the Super Rugby season, Meyer has little chance to work with his squad.

The Springboks will feature several new faces following the retirement of long-time captain John Smit, injuries to flanks Schalk Burger and Juan Smith and the exit of a number of stalwarts to overseas clubs.

Meyer is also facing a dilemma over who to appoint as captain because the frontrunner, Burger, has been ruled out of the England series due to a knee injury.

The former Bulls coach previously hinted that Matfield, who has 110 caps and was a master of the lineout, could return to steer the team through the transitional period.

“I did want to play an experienced side, but a lot of players are not available,” Meyer told BBC radio this week. DM

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