Former Springbok loose forward Schalk Burger believes South African rugby must consider making a permanent move to join northern hemisphere competitions.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Rugby Paper, Burger said the time for change had come.
‘We don’t know how the future of Sanzaar is going to look but it’s got to make more sense for South African teams to play up north. Argentina, USA and Canada should join forces to develop a competition there and then New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the Polynesian Islands can develop a high-class competition of their own.
‘I know it’s tricky because South Africa is traditionally linked with Sanzaar, but when I started out, Super 12 was the best competition ever – short, intense and with the best players. Now, however, we’ve lost our magic and with Super Rugby expanding, we’ve pretty much lost the Currie Cup in South Africa, which used to have massive importance.
‘We’ve lost the plot and people aren’t watching Super Rugby in big numbers any more, which is why we must come north.’
Burger said that it could be extremely rewarding if the Springboks were also able to join the Six Nations.
‘That would make it the best competition in the world! Cricket, which was once the most conservative of sports, has been willing to embrace change with lots of new competitions, led by the IPL, popping up around the world and it’s brought a new audience. In rugby, the Premiership is flying, as is the Top 14, but in other areas, it’s struggling.
‘International rugby is still a money-spinner but I think it’s ready for a change-up and if you had South Africa linking up with the northern hemisphere, it would make the Six Nations and other competitions even better. I’m just a rugby player but I’ve been thinking about it a lot and within South Africa, a few attitudes have to change.
‘A lot of the franchises are under huge financial pressure and the Stormers/Western Province are in big trouble, which is sad to see. Whoever is willing to change the fastest might lead the way forward and Europe has a big opportunity if it embraces South Africa.’
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