No SA teams disappoints NZ Super Rugby stars
REACTION: More New Zealand players have expressed their disappointment at plans to drop South African teams from Super Rugby next year.
Last week, New Zealand Rugby revealed plans for a tournament without South African (Stormers, Bulls, Sharks and Lions) and Argentinean (Jaguares) teams. The Kiwis’ decision to move forward with the much-publicised Trans-Tasman-Pacific tournament also means SA teams will almost certainly join up with the European-based competition next year – most likely an expanded version of the Pro14.
All Black star Aaron Smith, Highlanders hooker and Maori All Blacks captain Ash Dixon and Hurricanes loose forward Gareth Evans joined fellow Super Rugby stars Brad Weber and Bryn Hall is expressing their sadness over the plans to dump South Africa.
“I’d love to see the Africans still there. I think it’s a huge part of the rivalry between New Zealand and South Africa,” Dixon told Gold AM’s Country Sport Breakfast.
“Especially as a young fella who has toured there…it’s a great way to get a lot of gratitude…the way they live their lives and the way we do is completely different.
“It is not an easy place to win – I’d love to see the Africans still there.
“I think that what [Weber] said around the sustainability of this competition, there’s a lot of truth to that.
“[Super Rugby Aotearoa] is pretty hard…if we did have semis and finals it would be who is left to play. I know after our game we’ve got a few banged-up bodies, this bye week has come at a good time for us.
“If the Africans don’t play, hopefully, we can chuck someone in who is a similar beast.”
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Evans shared Dixon’s sentiments.
“A few guys are dropping off – great for viewership in New Zealand but I’m not so sure how sustainable it is,” he said.
“The boys love playing in the comp [but] in short no, I don’t think it is sustainable.
“Most of the boys are only coming right at the captains run the following week.
“Some of those real top games are like test match footy. From an attrition rate and boys’ bodies it’s pretty tough on the lads.”
Speaking ahead of NZ Rugby’s announcement, Smith said: “I’m a kid from a small town and going to South Africa and seeing lions and elephants, and seeing a beautiful country like that … obviously New Zealand is beautiful but South Africa, it’s just different over there.
“The ability to go over there and travel and tour, and the tightness you get from that big trip.
“Going to Australia is very similar to New Zealand but going to South Africa is a great place to tour.
“I’ve been there plenty of times but it’s still special.”
He added: “They’re awesome. Big stadiums, dry ball, they play it at the right time, at 4 o’clock or 5 o’clock, so you finish the game and it’s only just dark.”
“It’s easy to play rugby in South Africa when it’s 21 degrees in the winter.”
Source: NZ Herald, Stuff and Gold AM