Schalk Brits: Future of SA rugby lies in Europe

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Jan 12, 2020, 01:55

Schalk Brits: Future of SA rugby lies in Europe

2020-01-11 16:23
Schalk Brits (Gallo Images)
Schalk Brits (Gallo Images)


Cape Town - 2019 World Cup-winning Springbok hooker Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe. 

The 38-year-old, speaking as an ambassador for Laureus ahead of next month's Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin, is now fully retired from the professional game but he will be watching this year's Super Rugby with interest having represented the Bulls last season. 

The tournament is under pressure again this year with crowd numbers having been in a steady state of decline in recent years, while it has received another blow from a South African perspective with several Springboks having now left their local franchises for more lucrative European moves. 

For Brits, who left South Africa and the Stormers in 2009 to pursue a career in the English Premiership with Saracens, a move to European competition would be a positive for the South African franchises. 

"For me, when I left South Africa in 2009 I think we had an average attendance of around 40 000 people at Newlands every week," Brits said. 

"Coming back, I was quite shocked with the lack of support.

"I've been saying this for quite a while, but for me people want to watch the best players play rugby and unfortunately it isn't great when you have your best players playing abroad.

"Going forward I foresee the game moving to the northern hemisphere.

"All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just doesn't work. For me it just makes sense to go north.

"From a rugby community point of view, we've already got so many players playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see South African players playing against each other in a European competition."

For now, at least, Super Rugby is here to stay and Brits acknowledged that he would be torn when it came to picking between the Stormers and Bulls. 

"Definitely this year my heart lies with the Bulls, but I've got a soft spot for the Stormers," he said. 

"Hopefully they they both do well and play each other in the final, but I don't know who I would support in the final."

The 2020 competition gets underway on January 31.

Jan 12, 2020, 02:00

With so many SA players leaving to play in Europe, especially our teenage stars it is certainly time for SA to join up with Europe. 

Maybe 2 teams in SuperRugby, but the others should be playing in Europe.

SuperRugby used to be the best tournament in the world, now it is crap. 
New Zealand has 2-3 good teams each year, and Australia and SA have 1 good team each, and Argentina has 1 good team. 
So it is about 6 teams that are competitive and the rest are crap- and just pick themselves up for local derbies. Argentina's 1team is good, but it has brought in even more travel. 

SA will still face some of the best New Zealand players playing European teams, so the lure of playing New Zealand SuperRugby teams is not as good as it was.

Europe has more money and less travel. With more Australian and New Zealand top players now in Europe, it is now getting to the stage of football where the top players are in Europe.
Maybe if SA teams can have teams touring SA it will bring more money to the SA teams to retain players, or the European teams may still poach our best players - and still beat SA teams...

The growth of SuperRugby from Super12 never worked. It diluted quality, and the product became less marketable. This was compounded further by many of the best players leaving to play in Europe. With so many local derbies in SR, it destroyed the Currie Cup - making it pointless as a competition.
The time is now to make a change...

Jan 12, 2020, 02:06

I think that article was written sometime early in 2019,   Brits is now working for Rupert resulting from a promise made by Rupert to him after he received offers from other clubs while at Saracens,  .

Jan 12, 2020, 02:46

Even so Mike, the writing is on the reads, players are heading north, crowd numbers in SR is dead.

Jan 13, 2020, 00:48

Hell yeah.

Lekker Schalk.

I can't wait.

Jan 13, 2020, 01:49

Super Rugby is dead when compared to the Champions Cup.

Did anyone see the Racing vs Munster game, stadium packed to the rafters and the talent on show.

FML the skill and cahones of Finn Russel and Teddy Iribahen. 

I honestly think Leinster when they play at Aviva Stadium are the best provincial side in world rugby. I'd even back them against some of the tier two national teams.

Super Rugby was king. The king is dead. Long live the king.

Jan 13, 2020, 04:07

We are going the soccer route...Brazilians and Bargies play in  Europe.

Jan 13, 2020, 08:17

It's been pretty obvious these last few seasons.

Has Schalk only woken up now?

Can't see it happening though.

Jan 13, 2020, 08:32

Only, Brazil doesn't have teams competing in Europe, Moz.

The present situation is more similar.

Jan 13, 2020, 15:06

As an Irishman I'd loved to see the remaining South African Super Rugby join the Pro 14. Think it would make for a very strong league. I'd also be in favor of the SA teams being eligible to qualify for the Champions Cup as well.

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