Rennie: SA must stay in Super Rugby

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie says it would be a ‘disaster’ if South African teams were no longer involved in Super Rugby, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

With an expanded Super Rugby competition having come in for much criticism since last year’s expansion to 18 teams, Sanzaar has entered into extensive discussions over the possibility of cutting as many as three teams from participation.

Despite the continued struggles of the Australian franchises, and the generally poor performances of the Sunwolves, widespread speculation has suggested that South Africa could have two teams axed from the competition.

Such a suggestion has increased calls for South Africa to consider looking into the means to enter into a new competition with northern hemisphere teams, and where the travel factor would be far less gruelling. This could be a possibility when the current broadcast deal expires in 2020 and a new global calendar comes into effect.

However, speaking at a press conference in Cape Town ahead of the Chiefs’ clash against the Stormers this weekend, Rennie said this would be a disastrous option for New Zealand and Australia.

‘The only one saying it should just be an Australasian competition is probably the Australians. In the end, what makes Super Rugby special is coming to South Africa … So I think it would be a disaster if South African teams weren’t involved.

‘I know they’re trying to fatten out the competition a bit, and have brought in the Jaguares and Sunwolves, but you’ve got to make sure this is the premium competition in the world. So I think a couple of teams will be culled, but maybe if South Africa and Australia have one less side, it will be better for those countries in the long term.’

Turning his attention to this Saturday’s clash against the Stormers, Rennie said he certainly didn’t expect the clash to be as one-sided as last year’s quarter-final at Newlands, with the Chiefs having won that contest 60-21.

‘I think we surprised the Stormers last year, and that was undoubtedly the best performance of our season. But I think the Stormers are a different proposition now, they have been unbeaten this year and are playing with a lot of confidence.

‘We’ve also noted that they are looking to play a bit more rugby, while their pack is as dominant as ever, so we’ve definitely got to ensure we make our first-time tackles and find ways to nullify the Stormers’ attacking and offloading game.’

Photo: Nic Bothma/BackpagePix

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Craig Lewis