Ex-All Blacks Jeff Wilson, Sir John Kirwan and Justin Marshall all support the idea of a return of international tours to bring life to Test rugby.
The three were speaking on the Sky Sports New Zealand show The Breakdown on Tuesday, when former wing-turned-broadcaster Wilson brought up the idea of bringing back old-school international tours with midweek fixtures against provincial and club teams.
‘I look at this as a massive opportunity for not just players but for everyone, fans in particular,’ Wilson said. ‘Surely there would be a hunger to see South Africa come back to New Zealand and play a three-Test series?
‘I look at ’93, my first tour for the All Blacks. It’s an incredibly special time. I think it was nine or 10 games we played together and I played all but one.’
His argument appeared to strike a cord with both Kirwan and Marshall, who agreed that some of the best moments of their respective careers happened on such tours.
‘When I talk about this I always talk about tribalism and tradition,’ Kirwan said. ‘Why are the Lions so successful? Because we look forward to it.
‘When I was growing up I wanted to go on a Grand Slam. They actually stopped the Grand Slams just before I made the team. But for me, touring for me was amazing. The Test matches were great and you wanted to make the Test-match weekends. Midweek and you’d go to [places like] Llanelli and it was amazing.’
Marshall added that the current format of Test rugby had lost its appeal for both fans and players.
‘Let’s think about the modern-day player and some of our more established, senior All Blacks. It’s quite repetitive for them, even the international games.
‘All of a sudden you throw into the mix, like when [the All Blacks] played Munster a few years ago [in 2007], which was an outstanding success. Those sorts of things are vibrant for the current professional players, who do get a lot of repetition in their rugby.’
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