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'They don't need any more help': Dallaglio voices fears over SA sides in Champions Cup

By Josh Raisey
Stormers players celebrate following their victory during the European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 4 Rugby Union match between Stormers and Stade Rochelais (La Rochelle) at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town on December 16, 2023. (Photo by Gianluigi Guercia / AFP) (Photo by GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP via Getty Images)

After a season and two rounds of South African sides being in the Investec Champions Cup, a familiar theme has already started to appear.

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Ten games played at home so far by South African sides and ten victories for the hosts. Reigning two-time champions La Rochelle were the latest side to travel south of the equator and come home empty handed- although a losing bonus point could be regarded as a comforting consolation.

While the South African sides do not necessarily fare too well when travelling (the Stormers and Bulls both losing their matches on European soil in the competition), this is a theme that does not sit well with two-time winner Lawrence Dallaglio, who feels the new competition only benefits the South African sides.

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WATCH as Stormers assistant coach Dawie Snyman previews the #BIG North-South derby face-off against the Bulls

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WATCH as Stormers assistant coach Dawie Snyman previews the #BIG North-South derby face-off against the Bulls

The former England captain raised his concerns on the Evening Standard Rugby Podcast this week, suggesting that the change in conditions and quick turnaround for northern hemisphere sides put them at a disadvantage when travelling to South Africa. On top of that, he worried that the South African sides’ participation only strengthens South African rugby, which he believes is already set to dominate rugby for the coming years.

“The South African concept is not one that sits that comfortably with me at the moment,” the Wasps legend said.

“Some people would argue differently. Maybe the players would. I don’t know, I’d love to hear what the teams themselves think about traveling to South Africa, playing at altitude and in the heat, having been there for five days and then having a quick turnaround and having to then play another game the following week.”

“I think that the South Africans are very good at rugby. We know that they’ve just won the Rugby World Cup again for the fourth time, they don’t need any more help.

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“So I don’t like the fact that we give them more help by introducing them to European Champions Cup Rugby. I think the only team that it benefits are the South Africans really.

“I think that it’s probably a move that’s irreversible, particularly given that (new sponsors) Investec have now invested significant amounts of money and Investec have a big South African presence. South Africa will probably win the next two or three World Cups without any more help from us.”

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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