Ian McGeechan is relishing the “formidable challenge” of the Stormers, Sharks and Vodacom Bulls for Europe’s elite sides in the Champions Cup next season.
The iconic former British & Irish Lions coach, writing for The Telegraph, has suggested the South African teams will dominate the premier club competition similar to the French Top 14 clubs.
The Stormers will feature in the Champions Cup from 2022-23 after finishing second in the group stages of the inaugural Vodacom United Rugby Championship, and will host Edinburgh at Cape Town Stadium in the URC quarter-finals next Saturday.
The Bulls and Sharks, who face off at Loftus Versfeld in the last eight of the URC, are expected to join the Capetonians on the big stage up north next term.
“If the impact of the three South African giants upon the URC in their inaugural year is any guide, they will not only hugely enhance the Champions Cup, but will provide a formidable challenge for the best of the Top 14 and Premiership clubs, especially as the English clubs have undergone a significant cut in their salary cap,” McGeechan writes.
“In the URC, the South African quartet have already made the top Irish provinces in particular into better sides because they have provided a different and more varied challenge.
“This is exactly why the French clubs are dominant in Europe – they meet such a variety of challenges and styles and environments within the Top 14 that they have to be multidimensional sides to succeed, to a degree which the English clubs have yet to emulate.
“Every URC side who have travelled from Europe to South Africa have been asked new questions. The physicality of the four South African sides has been relentless, but their back moves and ability out wide, not to mention the humidity and the altitude, have forced the visiting northern-hemisphere clubs to adapt.”