Schalk Burger believes the relationship between SA Rugby and the franchises requires a radical overhaul to begin bridging the gap between the Springboks and the All Blacks.
Burger played the last of his 86 Tests for the Boks in their final World Cup game in 2015, with the team having since suffered a sequence of horror defeats that has seen them plummet down the world rankings.
Burger also started at flank when the Boks lost by just two points to the All Blacks in the World Cup semi-finals, but in contrast to South Africa, New Zealand have gone from strength-to-strength since the global showpiece.
‘There are so many guys on the bandwagon being negative about the Springboks, but that’s not helping and we need to find a solution,’ Burger said in the new issue of Rugby World magazine. ‘We have the talent to bridge the gap with New Zealand, but the biggest problem is the relationship between SA Rugby and the franchises. Nothing is aligned. For too long we’ve masked a structure that needs a radical overhaul.’
Commenting on the new 30-cap Springbok eligibility rule that will come into effect from July for overseas-based players, Burger said he didn’t think it would stop players heading abroad, but suggested it might help bring a few back to local shores.
‘Thirty caps was a pragmatic figure, but there are now over 350 [professional] South Africans playing abroad, and more money is needed for centrally-contracted players to lessen the financial reliance on franchises.’
With Super Rugby set to be restructured from next year, which will see two South African teams cut from the competition, Burger conceded that the best format was when it was just the Super 12.
‘I was vocal in my opposition to the new format because it was so complex, and expanded purely because there was more money available … There will be ramifications by dropping sides, but it’s the right thing to do because we’re losing the fans.’
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