[OPINION] Boks' WC preparations hinge on success of SA's Super Rugby sides
It is without a doubt that Springbok rugby has been in a quagmire of poor results and unattractive style of play in the last two years under Allister Coetzee.
Much of that can be attributed to the lack of support that SA Rugby gave the now ousted Coetzee and the indifferent performances from our Super Rugby sides in the last two years.
I believe that to have a strong Springbok side, our Super Rugby franchises need to perform consistently and dominate the playoff positions in the competitions. If you look at the success of the All Blacks, an important cog is the success of their Super Rugby sides in the Southern Hemisphere competition.
In 2016, New Zealand had three franchises in the semi-final spots, with the overall winners, the Hurricanes, sinking a valiant Lions side in Wellington. The same happened in 2017, where the Lions were again the only South African representatives in the last four of the competition.
The value of having more of our Super Rugby franchises competing in playoff positions, especially leading up to the 2019 World Cup in Japan, is that it gives the Springboks a wider pool of in-form players to choose from. The Lions have held the fort for the past three years and their success in Super Rugby has reflected in the number of players that have received national call ups.
That though isn’t enough. The preparations of whoever will be named as Coetzee’s replacement as Springbok boss, hinge on the success of our Super Rugby sides in this year’s competition.
The Stormers and the Sharks have been under-achieving for a long time now and it is high time that they arrest that decline and push harder to compete in semi-finals and finals.
In all respects, this Super Rugby season is the most important from a Springbok and World Cup preparations perspective. The Boks have slid so far down the World Rugby rankings that we have lost the respect and fear that the class of 1995 and 2007 worked so hard to achieve.
With the Cheetahs and Kings culled from the competition, now is the time for the Stormers, Sharks, Lions and the Bulls to fully focus on their onslaught on Super Rugby’s playoff positions.