SA teams can't afford to get stuck in the starting blocks
INTERVIEW: South Africa’s new entries into Europe’s expanded Pro16 competition run the risk of being left in the starting blocks.
This is the warning of former Southern Kings coach Deon Davids, who will take charge of the Gold team in the Springbok trial at Newlands on Saturday.
Davids, speaking to the media in a virtual briefing this week, was asked about his experiences of playing in Europe with the now-defunct Kings.
A Special General Meeting of the South African Rugby Union earlier this week it was decided to enter four teams into an expanded Pro Rugby competition in Europe.
The four teams voted to make the transition were the existing Super Rugby franchises – the Bulls, the Lions, the Sharks and the Stormers.
Davids was in charge of the Kings from 2016 to 2019 – winning just two of their 15 matches (13 percent) and improved that to 40 percent the next year with six wins – including the Bulls in Pretoria, Jaguares in Buenos Aires and Waratahs in Sydney.
His record in the Pro14 was less impressive, as a mass exodus of stars resulted in the Kings having to rebuild from scratch – winning just one of 21 matches in the 2017-18 season and two of 21 the following year.
Davids admitted the ‘big four’ run the same risk in what will be a ‘unique experience’ for the SA franchises.
He described Pro14 as a ‘tough and a very challenging’ competition.
“You play against different cultures and coaching mindsets, on different surfaces,” he told the virtual media briefing.
“It produces different challenges from week-to-week and you have to adjust your approach.
“Maybe our teams will be a bit slow out of the blocks.”
He added that if they adapt, they will do very well.
#⃣BREAKING NEWS❗️ The @CheetahsRugby have ‘reserved their rights’ after being booted from the @PRO14Official by #SARugby
💢The implications of the business model have to be assessed
💢The meeting rejected the first option
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) September 29, 2020
“Looking at our talent pool in SA rugby, it is a very exciting competition to be in.”
He said the ‘different experiences’ is a definite advantage to moving north.
“The different approaches from a technical point of view are focused more in certain areas of the game than what they are in Super Rugby.
“Obviously, Super Rugby is a fantastic competition, where you also play against fantastic teams.
“I think that it will be a unique experience.”