Columnists 7.7.2017 06:52 pm

Super Rugby: Europe won’t make South African rugby better

South African rugby needs Cheetahs captain Francois Venter to play Super Rugby in 2018, not in Europe. Photo; Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images.

South African rugby needs Cheetahs captain Francois Venter to play Super Rugby in 2018, not in Europe. Photo; Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images.

Merely culling the Cheetahs and Kings isn’t enough to help South Africa win Super Rugby again. The other teams need their stars.

South African rugby can pat itself on the back all they want over the relatively pain-free way they chopped the Cheetahs and Kings from Super Rugby.

It can pat itself on the back for ensuring those two teams still have a competition to play in – reportedly Europe’s Pro12 tournament.

But the reality is it’s a decision that’s not in the long-term interests of South African rugby.

Also read: Super Rugby: Cheetahs and Kings officially booted out

There’s a reason why Super Rugby had to shrink again.

And it’s a simple one: it’s lost all competitiveness.

Indeed, South Africa’s best way of winning Super Rugby again is by only having four teams.

However, it’s not going to help much if the Cheetahs and Kings still play overseas.

What South African rugby needed is to have the best players at those two franchises accommodated at the other four teams.

Local rugby needs Cheetahs skipper Francois Venter to fill Jan Serfontein’s void at the Bulls from next season.

It needs Ox Nche to go play loosehead at the Stormers.

Or Makazole Mapimpi to play wing at the Lions.

This whole exercise should’ve been to streamline South Africa’s player depth.

Now we have the prospect of players chasing the riches of Europe without the guarantee of success.

Let’s be honest, the Cheetahs are an exciting team but not necessarily a rounded one.

They have the fourth poorest defence in 2017’s competition and their scrum has generally been suspect.

Those aspects are cornerstones of being competitive in European conditions.

Do the Cheetahs have the skills and tactics for that?

Will more people actually come watch them in Bloemfontein in December?

Remember, the Cheetahs will play during the European calendar between September and May.

It just all seems so iffy.

We also need to realise that decisions like this affect parties that aren’t directly involved.

This week, Cheetahs coach and Springboks assistant Franco Smith was linked to the Lions as Johan Ackermann’s replacement.

But how does that affect team morale when Swys de Bruin is the man that has to make way in such a case?

Would it be a decision based on the need for Saru to keep Smith on the same calendar as the Springboks?

South African rugby had a golden chance to tighten up its resources and remain competitive.

That won’t happen now.

Heinz Schenk: Online Sports Editor.

Heinz Schenk: Online Sports Editor.

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