Terblanche column: I’d say, let’s go north

A weakening Vodacom Super Rugby has offered further reason for SA rugby to consider heading north, writes former Springbok STEFAN TERBLANCHE in the latest SA Rugby magazine.

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In a recent conversation with Andy Marinos, the former Welsh International and now CEO of Sanzaar, many questions were answered about rugby in general.

However, the situation and uncertainty was best described in one sentence: Today’s structure becomes tomorrow’s fish-and-chips wrapper!’

For me, it sums up a year never experienced before, and one we will hopefully never have to go through again in our lifetime.

One doesn’t always get the time and access to CEOs of any major organisations, and in a rugby context, they don’t get much bigger than Sanzaar.

I have to say that I was extremely impressed by the way Andy answered some difficult questions with honesty and no illusion as to where the game is at.

For me it was abundantly clear that Sanzaar is under immense pressure and is desperately keen to get a product in any form out on the playing fields.

With TV rights providing the majority share of revenue it’s not rocket science as to why they need rugby to survive financially, and are urgently in need of viewers returning to the telly to tune in and watch their teams play on the weekends.

Super Rugby as we know it is done and dusted for 2020 and we have seen the New Zealand and Aussies franchises return to play. I have always enjoyed watching New Zealand teams but I can’t say the same about the product coming out of Australia.

A rugby friend said the Wallabies national team would struggle to win the Super Rugby competition, and on current form and playing ability, I agree.

Many of rugby’s greats, including David Campese, Tim Horan, Matt Burke, George Gregan, Stephen Larkham and Joe Roff, donned the Wallabies jersey for many years and were part of World Cup-winning teams.

However, that was a long time ago and players of that ability and prowess seem to be playing some other Australian sport, while rugby union is falling behind in terms of popularity.

I have always sat on the fence with regards to where South African teams should play their rugby and I guess that I am a bit of a traditionalist.

In saying this I will always be loyal to the south and even if the Wallabies had to play England in a World Cup final, I would definitely support the team from the south.

I have said it before, and I have to agree with Andy in that the south still produces the top rugby players in the world, and World Cup winners and teams can back that up with an 8-1 win ratio.

So, if I had to make a call to repair the broken Super Rugby format, I would say, let’s go north and play our rugby up there. I will miss playing the New Zealand teams, but don’t think we miss out at all by not playing Aussie teams and the Sunwolves.

It will take some time getting use to playing up north, and in different seasons, but rugby is now well and truly a global giant with an estimated value of 6-billion pounds. Yes, that’s correct, a Zuma number!

Any challenges in finding a suitable season to cover two hemispheres should be easily overcome for the betterment of the game.

Photo: Lara Di Ferdinando/Saracens

*Terblanche is a former Springbok who earned 37 Test caps. He is now the CEO of the SA Rugby Legends Association and served as a member of World Rugby’s judicial committee at the 2019 World Cup.

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