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'It's pathetic and petty': Bobby defends SA teams against Euro criticism

SPOTLIGHT: Bobby Skinstad believes the criticism levelled at South African teams over their participation in European competitions has been ‘unfounded’.

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The South Africans have enjoyed early success since they moved north.

The Stormers won the inaugural United Rugby Championship in 2022 before securing another home Final in 2023.

The Sharks became the first South African team to win an EPCR tournament when they outplayed Gloucester in the Challenge Cup Final last weekend.

However, South Africa are still viewed by many in the north as outsiders in those competitions.

Things almost reached a boiling point in April when Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White was in the firing line for leaving his best players at home ahead of a Champions Cup quarterfinal against Northampton Saints in England.

White was quite vocal about the travelling issues and it didn’t sit well with some Northern Hemisphere pundits and fans.

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During a URC media round table this week, Skinstad was asked if that criticism was harsh and unfair.

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“Absolutely,” was his response.

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“I think it has been unfounded, pathetic and petty.

“If you look at the evolution of where rugby is trying to take itself, we’ve got hard-working and industrious leaders of all of these leagues. They are trying to put ingredients for 10 different types of output into one baking tin, which is hard.

“You are going to have a few mistakes and there is going to be things that go wrong.

“There will be scheduling issues and change of participation issues.

“South African teams have been the poor latecomer to the party, so I think we are punching above our weight.

“I have seen some completely unfounded comments about ‘Send the South Africans back to where they came from’.

“South Africa brings a lot to the table and they bring good, big and difficult matches.”

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Skinstad added: “The Bulls coming on tour with not all of their starting line-up, but now still competing and potentially being able to end on top of the table in the URC just means that they planned well with the resources they had at hand.

“It’s a fact. It is not up for debate and Jake White is a wily old character.

“He has been around the coaching game for so long that he knows when to turn the proper engines on.

“I’m a passionate South African. I’m not going to hide from that.

“Any criticism levelled at South Africa hurts me and I get angry about that, but I do understand where it comes from.

“We are outsiders, we are latecomers, we are Johnny-come-latelys in these tournaments. But, do you know what, we just won one of them and we have won the URC already.

“So, I think we deserve our position.”

@rugby365com

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