Springbok veteran Frans Steyn says the quality of the European leagues could benefit South African rugby if a move to the northern hemisphere is made in the future.
Following the re-election of Bill Beaumont as World Rugby chairman, there is an expectation that the northern and southern hemispheres could become more aligned in a global calendar.
Talks that Australia and New Zealand could break away and form a new trans-Tasman competition that would replace Vodacom Super Rugby were quickly shut down by Sanzaar, as the governing body reaffirmed that there was already a commitment to see the current deal through until 2030.
However, this does show that there is a current rethink going on to reorganise rugby in the south in order to solve some of the most pressing issues. South African rugby, in particular, had been affected by the player drain to the north as it cannot compete with the euro or pound. There has, therefore, been talk of abandoning the south for the more convenient time zones and wealth of the north.
In an interview with RugbyPass writer Jamie Lyall, the two-time World Cup-winning centre pointed out that his own experience in Europe tells him that a shift to the northern hemisphere may not be the worst idea.
‘A lot of the time, decisions are made that are not best for South African rugby,’ Steyn said. ‘If there are two New Zealand teams in the Super Rugby final, I’d bet most of the TV audience for that game came from South Africa, but South Africa gets the least money.
‘People can’t say that northern hemisphere rugby is s**t. I’ve been playing here for a while now and if they come to the north, it will be good for South Africa, and the rugby will be good. It will be tough every week.
‘It will still be good if they stay in the south but at the moment we are losing players, we can’t spend rand against pound, so it’s definitely something to look at. I would go north.
‘[SA Rugby director of rugby] Rassie [Erasmus] will sort it out, though. The [Vodacom] Bulls, Sharks and Stormers sign how many young players each? The best young guys almost always go to those unions. With Rassie in charge, things will change and some of the younger players will get distributed more evenly between the unions.’
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