VIDEO: South African teams a 'waste of time'
PRO14 SPOTLIGHT: The South African teams’ participation in the European competition has been thrown into doubt, as officials continue to scramble for a way to restart the game.
A report by the BBC Sport Wales suggested plans are being considered to resume a curtailed Pro14 season on August 22 – following the COVID-19-enforced lockdown around the globe.
It is reported that games will probably be staged behind closed doors.
However, the participation of the SA teams – the Cheetahs and Southern Kings – are being questioned on two fronts.
According to the BBC report a virtual board meeting was held last Wednesday.
There are draft proposals to have two rounds of conference fixtures – with sides playing teams from their own nation on the final two weekends in August.
In Scotland, Italy and South Africa that could involve the two sides in the Pro14 facing each other on consecutive weekends.
The remaining game will then be counted as scoreless draws.
It will leave the Cheetahs’ play-off dreams hanging by a thread.
They are in fourth place on 32 points, two behind the third-placed Glasgow Warriors.
However, it is unlikely SA teams will return to play before October – leaving the Cheetahs unable to make up their deficit before the play-offs.
This development comes at a time when experts are beginning to question the value of the two SA team’s in the Pro14.
Ireland legend Keith Wood – on his new show ‘State of the Union‘ on the Off The Ball website – dismissed the South African teams as a ‘waste of time’.
“For me, the Pro14, I don’t like it as a competition,” Wood told the panel.
“I do understand, because of Italy being in the Six Nations, the need to put Italian sides, with no history, no sense of a rivalry into the midst of a Celtic competition.
“[However,] the South African teams for me, I think are an absolute waste of time.
“In terms of player welfare, deciding in the middle of your season, especially for international players, to suddenly have to pop down and play a game at the Highveld, for me it isn’t particularly right.”
* (Watch Wood’s views on SA teams from 26 minutes 12 seconds on the video or watch the entire panel discussion)
Wood believes rivalry between clubs is the key to a successful tournament, and a repurposed League closer to home would be more effective.
“I’ve always been a fan to try and go on that sense of rivalry.
“For me, I am still looking for change.
“I would love to have a British and Irish League, because I think the sense of rivalry that we see in the Six Nations can be mirrored at a club game with Leicester and Leinster or Munster.
“You know the crowds that are going to turn up to those sort of things.
“The European Cup – what it did show over the years is that – there is a huge appetite for that battle and that contest and those inbuilt rivalries that happen over the year.
“There has to be something that fits a little bit better, especially on the back of COVID-19 as to whether there is going to be a huge amount of travel or not, whether with the closer proximity, we can make that into something that unifies it a little bit more.”
Sources: BBC Sport Wales & Off The Ball