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Victor Matfield responds to Rieko Ioane's 'Super Rugby title above a World Cup' remark

By Ned Lester
(Photo by Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images)

All Blacks star Rieko Ioane made headlines following the Blues’ Super Rugby Pacific final win over the Chiefs last weekend by saying the Super Rugby title means more to him than a World Cup.


The statement inevitably provoked a strong response online, with some fans suggesting the star centre was deflecting from his disappointment over the World Cup final loss in France last year.

However, the full quote from Ioane puts the conversation into context.

“I put a Super Rugby title above a World Cup, because of how much I love this city, how much I love this club, how much I’ve admired this club,” he told media after the final.

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The rugby world has been Ioane’s oyster since emerging as a teenage star. The now 27-year-old became the eighth youngest All Black debutant in 2016, running out for the first time against Italy at the age of 19.

Crediting his development as a player to the local system, Ioane’s comments can be seen as less World Cup snubbing and more pride in his region.

A former Super Rugby winner and 2007 world champion has since come out in partial agreement with Ioane.

Springbok great Victor Matfield responded to the All Black’s comments, reflecting on his time in the competition.


“Ioane this week said a Super Rugby title means more to him than a World Cup,” Matfield began on SuperSport’s Final Whistle Present Side Entry.

“When we were playing in it and we had all our best players playing for South African franchises, New Zealand had all their best, Australia had all their best, it was by far the best competition in the world.

“I really believe it’s a tougher competition to win than a World Cup, because there you had to win 10 of our 12 games, then, you play against the best teams in the semi and the final, so you had to be at the top of your game for a very long time.

“In a World Cup, you probably need three good games. Even in the Champions Cup, it’s a top competition because of top teams, but you only have to play two, three good games.


“Super Rugby, you were playing against 10 of the best teams in the world and you had to perform week in, and week out.

“I miss it a lot, but we’re in a good space as well now.”


Matfield also shared his thoughts on the long-running debate over the Springboks leaving The Rugby Championship for the Six Nations, saying while there are undeniable benefits for the Springboks up north, it’s not worth leaving their southern hemisphere rivals.

“I would like to stay in the southern hemisphere. Financially, it would probably make more sense to go up north, but you have to play the All Blacks every year, you have to play Australia – yes, Australia are in a difficult time but they will bounce back, and they will be competitive again – and Argentina have shown they are a top six nation most of the time.

“For us, playing club rugby up north but staying in the south, I prefer it. I think playing the All Blacks, playing Australia, we need that as well because that is a different challenge.”

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Ben 23 days ago

As long as we don’t join the 6 Nations!!….. its a poor comp with maybe 2 good teams each year…..SA must Play club comps up North and let the NH pay our players and then play Rugby Champs later in the year - far better comp than 6 Nations anyway…. best of both worlds for SA and SA Players.

Thomas 24 days ago

I’m a NH guy. My heritage is pure Euro as far as any DNA evidence goes, so there’s precisely zero amount of any sentimental attachment to the SH on my part.
That being said, The Rugby Championship is the best annual rugby championship. I love and watch the 6N, but have to laugh hard every time I hear that “greatest annual rugby tournament” self-aggrandizing label. It is not, and not by a long shot at that.
NZ-SA is the biggest, most prestigious rivalry in rugby union by a country mile, as those are the two historically best rugby international sides by a country mile.
There’s a grand total of ONE Bill Webb Ellis distributed among the 6N participants, and a a grand total of NINE among the TRC participants.
It is imperative, that SA never leave TRC, because that would mean the loss of the two best international rugby matches, that take place every season. The SH teams run with the ball more and kick less than the NH sides, and TRC rugby is more thrilling and entertaining to watch, than 6N rugby. Yes, TRC is often decided earlier on, whereas the 6N campaign is often a drama until the last day, but that one particular advantage doesn’t change the overall score.
I can understand the motivation of SA clubs to move north, but for the national union to move north would be a massive net loss for the sport of rugby union.

Red and White Dynamight 24 days ago

Sth Africans/SARU just dont understand partner loyalty. NZR didnt ‘kick them out” of Super, SARU made noises about going up north for 2-3 years before they left. Then COVID happened and they took their opportunity. NZR has a long history of supporting Aus rugby but SARU is a different beast, zero loyalty. Boks would jump in to 6N in a minute if they could, they dont give a sh*t about SH/Rugby Championship. Cant see the tweedheads at 6N HQ allowing it but a few gold watches might sort it out.

Barry 25 days ago

Please don't let them near the 6N!!! We don't need 10 man rugby.

They'd have us all kicking penalties from our own 22’s.

Jasyn 25 days ago

Well in fairness, Rieko is a complete Muppet who rarely has anything intelligent to say. Doubt most Kiwis agree or even think he should be in All Blacks anymore. There on reputation alone.

So just ignore him.

Jonty 25 days ago

I agree with Victor. We should not swap the Rugby Championship for the 6 Nations.

SteveD 25 days ago

The Super Rugby was always very biased towards the antipodean teams so no wonder he loved it. The travelling was ridiculous. While I hear what Victor says about the RWC, it - like the soccer one - is the only real test of the best international teams. The W-E travel for the SA teams particularly was awful. Mind you the N-S isn't great for them at the moment with the useless Qatar Airways arrangements but hopefully that'll get fixed.

Gert 25 days ago

Just another arrogant kiwi

monty 25 days ago

Iv always admired Victor matfeild. Shear sportsmanship is a wholistic state of showing humility dignity and respect, Victor exemplifies this hugely. Loved his passion on and off the pitch. I’d also add this is apparent in all the guys that turn out for bokkie.

matt 26 days ago

SA really has the best of both worlds now

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