Wilson: SA must play in Super Rugby

2014-04-23 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Former All Black wing Jeff Wilson says it would be a foolish decision to opt for a Super Rugby competition without teams from South Africa.

This comes after Wilson’s former team-mate, Andrew Mehrtens, last week called for a competition without South Africa. Mehrtens said the travel and time difference between New Zealand and South Africa are problematic. He feels it would be better for all concerned if the Kiwis and Aussies were to play within their time zone and include teams from the Pacific Islands and Japan.

Mehrtens wants SA to join teams from the UK and Europe and form their own competition. However, Wilson begs to differ from Mehrtens, and expressed his opinion via a column on the Stuff.co.nz website.

“This talk of moving away from South Africa in Super Rugby is madness. This is the best international competition outside of Test rugby and it would be foolhardy to mess with its essential formula,” wrote Wilson. “The three countries each provide a different type of football, and I’d be reluctant to change anything that precluded those clashes of styles.

“This franchise competition prepares our players and coaches very well for the next level of the game — and that should not be under-estimated.

“It’s not only the clashes of style — the mental and physical challenge you face on any given week is huge.

“I don’t buy that the distance factor should force South Africa to play elsewhere. Travel is part and parcel of international sport and not a contributing factor for poor performance.”

Wilson also said the competition prepares their players well for when they face the Springboks later in the year. He said the challenge that SA presents is constant and if there’s “one team New Zealanders get nervous about playing, particularly in the republic, it’s the Springboks”.

Wilson (40) played 60 Tests for the All Blacks between 1993 and 2002.

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