South Africa Rugby Union president Mark Alexander has fueled debate over where his country’s playing future lies.
Alexander believes South African players are “better off” plying their trades in the northern hemisphere, adding to the growing rumours of a Super Rugby exodus.
South Africa currently host four Super Rugby teams and have two teams playing in the PRO14, with the possible addition of two more next year.
“It’s a long-term investment. We have options now and in future. At some point in time in future if we don’t want to stay in the south [in Super Rugby], we can move north,” Alexander said at the PRO14 season launch.
“Also, the PRO14 is a good competition for the players and coaches who’re playing against tier one nations each weekend, except for England.
“When we become a full PRO14 member next season, we’ll be the only nation who plays in the north and the south, and the major benefit of playing in the northern hemisphere is the players are better off. With the structure of the PRO14 competition the way it is, it’s easier for travelling, with distances between places less than in the south, and the time zones are also better.
“When you consider player welfare and what’s best for them, then the north is better.”
The Southern Kings won just one of their 21 fixtures, with a points differential of -451. The Cheetahs won 12 games and lost nine, qualifying for the quarterfinals where they were despatched 43-8 by eventual finalists Scarlets.
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