Springboks split over move north
WATCH as Stormers coach John Dobson gives some insight into the vexed issued of South Africa’s proposed move to the Northern Hemisphere.
Dobson revealed that unlike the general perception, not all players are in favour of joining a European competition.
Reports of Super Rugby’s demise and a mass exodus by SA teams to an expansion of one or more European competitions grew substantially after New Zealand revealed that they favour a Trans-Tasman competition for 2021.
Some of the reports suggested the Pro14 could be expanded to a Pro16 or Pro18.
Alternative reports had the Cheetahs and Southern Kings being dumped from the Euro-based competition to make room for the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.
But not all the Springboks are in favour of such a move and would prefer continuing to play against New Zealand teams.
Speaking to the media in a virtual media briefing this past week, Dobson said senior players in the Stormers squad had differing opinions.
“I have been having one-on-ones with the players for the last three days, off the field, and they seem to be quite split themselves,” the coach said.
“It is quite interesting,” Dobson said, adding: “Some of them said Super Rugby is wonderful.
(Watch from about 13 minutes on the video to see Dobson speak on moving north …)
“Speaking to a senior Springbok, he said for too many years we have been chasing New Zealand, trying to play their rugby and that actually the Northern Hemisphere would suit us.
“Another Bok told me he liked playing New Zealand teams, because we know we are testing ourselves against the best.”
He described it as “a bit of opportunism” by New Zealand Rugby to use the travel restrictions to throw Super Rugby out for 2021 and trial a new Trans-Tasman format.
“It [not playing New Zealand or Australian teams] is a reality for 2021.
“Personally, it would be sad to see it go. I think our players like it.”
He said he would not object if SA Rugby packs its bags and head north, if it is for valid reasons.
“What worries me is, what happens to us till August or September next year?,” Dobson said about a permanent move north.
“What happens before the [British and Irish] Lions arrive [in July]?
“Is that going to be another domestic competition?
“That will be a big challenge for us. How meaningful will that competition be?”