Former Ireland and Leinster scrumhalf Eoin Reddan says South African teams competing against more of Europe’s top clubs next season will raise the standard of its premier competition.
SA’s involvement in the top flight of northern-hemisphere club rugby was confirmed on Thursday with the announcement that the Stormers, Sharks and Vodacom Bulls, all of whom finished in the top eight of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, will play in the European Champions Cup.
The Cheetahs, along with the Lions, were included in the Challenge Cup, Europe’s second-tier cup competition.
Iconic former British & Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan wrote in a column for The Telegraph he is relishing the “formidable challenge” of the Stormers, Sharks and Bulls for Europe’s elite sides in the Champions Cup.
Speaking on OTB Sports’ Wednesday Night Rugby, Reddan explained why having the giants of SA rugby competing in the competition will not only make it more difficult to win, but raise its overall profile and competitiveness.
“I think it could become the tournament to win around the globe for players,” he said. “Maybe even to the point where you haven’t won [anything] until you’ve won this medal. That is to do with the South African players joining.”
“I think the credibility of this tournament is going to go through the roof,” Reddan added. “I think the standard of play is going to go through the roof, even higher.
“I think people are going to be bigger. It is going to be more physical. I think you are going to see the South African teams getting stronger each year now as they join and play in this amazing tournament, which is already capturing the eye across the world.
“So, I don’t think it is going to get any easier to win.”