Mehrtens: Time right to ditch SA



Former All Black and Crusaders flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens feels the time is right for New Zealand and Australia to exclude South Africa and form their own Southern Hemisphere competition.

Mehrtens, writing a column on the website, outlined the difference in time zones as the biggest problem.

“I can’t help thinking we might have lost a little interest in playing South African teams, and that ultimately the future of this competition might be more localised round time zones,” wrote Mehrtens.

“The provincial championship still has a pretty strong following, and if you’re looking at what Australia and New Zealand needs, maybe it’s that parochialism, that tribalism which is very important.

“The logistics of involving South Africa are problematic – the travel and time difference – and maybe it would be better for all concerned just to play within our time zone and include teams from the Pacific Islands and Japan.

“You could look at extending the number of New Zealand teams and move away from the regional concept, and back to provincial lines. That’s the logical progression.

“Maybe there could still be post-season involvement with South Africa, but their natural alignment is more with the UK and Europe, in the same time zone.”

The 40-year-old played 70 Tests for the All Blacks between 1995 and 2004.

Source: Sport24

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Better known as Bunny, Took over after Pissant went over to the "Dark Side"


  1. Mr Mehrtens, dont let your class as a player get confused with making wise decisions off the field.

    Bye bye SA means bye bye money.

  2. @Cheetah Glory: me for one will be very happy if they told us to piss-off more money for our players and our game to be made in Europe…

    But that will never happen as the administrators in NZ and Aus are not brainless idiots like this idiot.

    SA means money in their pockets and just the other day Crusaders said that the best way to build an All Black is to play SA teams in Supershit

  3. @Jacques(Bunny):

    Playing against us to give their players the egde is VERY different to making money from their product.

    I interpret him as saying having SA in their rugby takes away the marketability of their product because people are just not passionate about seeing two SA teams playing because there in no familiarity.

    In those markets they HAVE to create fierce rivalry in order to get bums on seats – the same reason why a Bulls/WP game is hyped up no matter if they are 5 and 6 on the log.

  4. For example if we were paired with France there will be some great games but our people wont have much cultural reference to Claremont playing Bordeiux and these games wont be marketable.

    If Oz and NZ feel they can market rugby better if they do not have an ‘unfamiliar’ SA element, then we cannot do much about that.

    I personally think we will build a better product focusing purely on the CC while Oz and Kiwi will have a better one combining their traditional rivalries. Super Rugby, because its a TV competition and not a competition based on real memories built by fans travelling, will simply never be great. The distances are too far and so too our different cultures.

  5. As yourself this – before professionalism and marketing and TV and apps and brands and wow – just how big was the Curie Cup?

    Fucking Huge. Thats the answer. And it was so because people had intense passion over it.

    And when there is passion, money is much easier to generate.

    That in my opinion is Mehrtens’ point.

  6. I just think that instead of bitching about these guys ‘not liking us anymore’ why dont we work a a massive plan B? Why is there this ‘wait and see’ attitude?

  7. Leinsters schools rugby is very strong. The Leinster under 18 side beat Australia under 18 as well recently, but then the quality after shcool drops tremendously because so many players have to play club rugby, where an introduction to beer kills many a player.

    I guess we are lucky with Vodacom Cup as it at least is somewhere to go for talented schools players – and now we have Varsity Cup.

    This is where we catch up and other countries fall behind.

  8. Television broadcast is not bound by space, but it is bound by time.

    So yes, it makes a lot more sense for them to have a competition within their time-zones only. Playing with Aus, NZ and PIs.
    And for SA to have a competition within our time-zones with………… Who???

    That is where SARU must be very careful. Yes SA brings in the most money in Sanzar, but if it is only because we are playing Aus and NZ, then the money will go a way if we are not playing Aus and NZ anymore.

  9. @Timeo:

    I think the Ozzies were instrumental in negotiating proper broadcast money for Sanzar, but a stand-alone Curie Cup with a bit of Varisty Cup mojo will be a super product and we wont have to share 66% of that income.

  10. This is Andrew Mehrtens talking, not the NZRU or NZ public. I normally enjoy his writing but as Mehrtens nowadays lives in Sydney where he works in high finance in Phil Kearns’ company we will allow some latitude- seems the Aussie sun (and wine) is getting to him.

    In the last week those in the know in NZ have stated that Superugby and playing against the “big South Africans” is key to maintaining the flow of new recruits to stem the tide of those leaving to play in France ad Japan. Interesting too, that Stuff NZ where the article was run has a survey in which 43% of respondents don’t agree with Mehrtens as the loss of SA sides would detract from the quality of the competition.

  11. @Cheetah Glory:

    With only five quality teams, a two round CC can result in a maximum of 23 quality games. SR has over 60 quality games that involve South African teams.
    Even if fans are equally excited about an SA only tournament, the much reduced number of games will also result in a much reduced money pot.