‘England can be a home from home’

Sharks director of rugby Jake White says SA sides could ditch Super Rugby in favour of a tournament with English clubs.

Following the Sharks' 23-15 loss against English Premiership log-leaders Saracens at Allianz Park, White told the BBC website that the two countries' similar time-zones, lack of factors such as jet-lag and the financial benefits made logistical sense.

'Maybe this is the sign of things to come,' White said. 'It's an overnight flight, and we'll be back at work on Monday afternoon after playing a team in England.'

Speaking at a time when the European Cup has come under fire from English and French clubs, White suggested a possible tournament merging English and South African teams as an alternative in the future.

'Logistically, to fit in an extra tournament against South African sides will be a bit tough, but maybe that can happen in the future. And for now, there's nothing wrong with now and then having southern hemisphere club sides against northern hemisphere club sides. Maybe here [England] can be a home from home. I'm sure there are exciting times ahead.'

White said the strong contingent of rugby-supporting South African ex-pats in England added to the viability of the idea.

“to fit in an extra tournament against South African sides will be a bit tough”

'I'm sure they're going to enjoy some of the players they have supported as young kids playing in this country.'

Former Springbok hooker and now Sharks CEO John Smit echoed the sentiments of White.

'There are a lot of competitions out there and they have been going for a long time – the Premiership, Currie Cup, Super Rugby and the European Cup. None of them are broken, they all produce pretty good products,' Smit told The Telegraph. 'But it's been a long time and if you need to look at what kind of change could add to the game in a positive way; that's what is bumping around in terms of European rugby at the moment.

'In this cycle of TV deals both in Europe and the southern hemisphere my guess is it's not going to end up being be a north-south competition,' added Smit. 'I think that it will end up as a renewal of the Sanzar and European competition in some form or other, but in due course I think it makes a lot of sense for South Africa to play north-south.'

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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