Are the Boks' move north beginning to hurt All Blacks?
SPOTLIGHT: Super Rugby Pacific is being billed as the world’s best provincial competition. Yet, at least on prominent coach has pointed to a fatal flaw in its make-up.
When the latest metamorphosis of Super Rugby kicks off in 2022, teams from Australia and New Zealand Rugby (five each) will be joined by Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika.
The teams contesting the hype-up competition are the Blues, Brumbies, Chiefs, Crusaders, Fijian Drua, Highlanders, Hurricanes, Melbourne Rebels, Moana Pasifika, NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds and Western Force.
However, the absence of South African teams remains the glaring shortcoming of this version.
All Black coach Ian Foster highlighted this as one of the main reasons for his team’s failures on their year-end tour – where they lost to Ireland and France.
Foster has been in the crosshairs since those defeats, but believes he knows where things started to go wrong.
The decision by New Zealand Rugby to turn their back on their most powerful partner and hastened South Africa’s move to European competitions in the Northern Hemisphere had the unintentional consequence of ‘weakening’ the All Black game.
“I think we’ve definitely missed playing South Africa in Super Rugby,” Foster told stuff.co.nz in an interview.
Foster in outlining his thoughts, made the frank assessment that Super Rugby Aotearoa made New Zealand “a bit insular”.
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“Just the sheer size of the players and the fact that maybe they don’t allow you to play as much rugby as you want to play,” Foster he said of the advantage of playing against South African teams.
It’s the interview he suggests changes will be made in 2022.
“Yes, there will be,” he said.
“We’ve got some clear indicators of a couple of areas where we’ve got to sharpen up in.
“There’s a couple of areas that when we’re under pressure, we need to be really clear about what works for us.
“I think we showed in the northern hemisphere that we have the answers, but we certainly didn’t for long enough periods of the game to get away with it.”