More Kiwis whine about SA teams' Super departure
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: It seems like South African franchises’ move to the Northern Hemisphere is now truly having an impact on the game in New Zealand.
In the aftermath of the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, Super Rugby – spearheaded by New Zealand – underwent a massive revamp.
The New Zealand teams opted to play in their Super Rugby domestically as Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Rugby Australia followed New Zealand’s example, with Super Rugby AU, before the Trans-Tasman counties resumed their relationship by combining to create Super Rugby Trans-Tasman last year, leaving the South African teams out in the cold.
Consequently, the four South African franchises – Bulls, Lions, Stormers and Sharks – opted to join the revamped Pro14 competition, which became the United Rugby Championship.
At first, there were loads of criticism.
However, the South African teams have added great value to the European competition with the Bulls, Sharks and Stormers all qualifying for the play-offs, while they have secured Champions Cup spots for next season.
Speaking to AllBlacks.com Crusaders coach Robertson revealed in the first year when COVID-19 interrupted the system, New Zealand teams didn’t miss the South Africans due to the intensity of the Aotearoa competition.
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That has all changed in 2022.
The Crusaders suffered a rare loss to the Waratahs, while the Brumbies claimed back-to-back wins over the Chiefs and Hurricanes – which was a major shock to NZ Rugby fans.
And the Crusaders coach, Robertson, admitted NZ Rugby’s decline could stem from a lack of intense and vigorous games against South African opposition.
The coach explained that he missed the South Africans’ mentality, which is what made the encounters so great.
“I think more and more now,” Robertson said.
“In the first year, we thought we wouldn’t miss them because we had [Super Rugby] Aotearoa and that was tough enough as it was, while in the second year we had two competitions.
“You then looked over your shoulder and watched them play or when you watched those test matches and realised that their mentality to the game, their style, their strengths, [is] what makes our game great.
“It’s just different, a different flow or a different game and when we play them I think we’re better for it and so we do miss them.”
The Crusaders have a big task this weekend, they travel to Canberra to face in-form Brumbies on Friday.