It’s time to exclude SA, says ex-All Blacks player

2014-04-16 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Former All Black flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens feels the time is right for New Zealand and Australia to exclude South Africa and form their own Southern Hemisphere competition.

Mehrtens, writing a column on the Stuff.co.nz website, outlined the difference in time zones as the biggest problem.

“I can’t help thinking we might have lost a little interest in playing South African teams, and that ultimately the future of this competition might be more localised round time zones,” wrote Mehrtens.

“The provincial championship still has a pretty strong following, and if you’re looking at what Australia and New Zealand need, maybe it’s that parochialism, that tribalism, which is very important.

“The logistics of involving South Africa are problematic — the travel and time difference — and maybe it would be better for all concerned just to play within our time zone and include teams from the Pacific Islands and Japan.

“You could look at extending the number of New Zealand teams and move away from the regional concept, and back to provincial lines. That’s the logical progression.

“Maybe there could still be post-season involvement with South Africa, but their natural alignment is more with the UK and Europe, in the same time zone.”

The 40-year-old played 70 Tests for the All Blacks between 1995 and 2004.

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