Saracens boss Edward Griffiths says the South African Rugby Union (SARU) should consider playing its international rugby in the Northern Hemisphere in future.
Griffiths spoke to Die Burger newspaper at Thursday’s announcement that Saracens will play French club Biarritz in a Heineken Cup match at the Cape Town Stadium on 14 January next year.
“This match paves the way for a relationship between South African rugby and the Heineken Cup.
“The Heineken Cup has the potential to become the strongest provincial competition in the world.
“It will be interesting to see if certain Suuth African players, provinces, coaches and even fans feel it could provide more commercial opportunities and also that the travel burden of south to north will be easier than west to east.”
The rugby schedule will be even more cramped next season. The Super Rugby competition will only end in early August – with a breather for Test matches in June – and there’s also the extended Rugby Championship series (extension of the Tri-Nations with Argentina included) which starts in August.
Only time will tell whether player burnout due to too much rugby, and especially the long travel distances to Australasia, become too much to bear for players. A shift to the Northern Hemisphere in future might not be the worst possibility for SARU to again ponder over.
Former Springbok captain Morné du Plessis says the answer to player burnout could be to start playing a global rugby season.
“Rugby has been toying for long over the issue of player welfare due to too much rugby.
“The answer is to start playing in the same season worldwide,” said Du Plessis.