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Spies backs calls for global season

Thu, 29 Aug 2013 14:32
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There has been talk of a global schedule, and I am in favour of it
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Bulls captain Pierre Spies says he is in favour of a global rugby season which would see the Super Rugby competition finish earlier in the year.

The subject has been the focus of much speculation with the current SANZAR agreement set to expire in 2015, and Spies added his voice to the calls for the entire season to be restructured.

"I would like the competition [Super Rugby] to finish before the start of the international season," Spies said in Midrand on Thursday.

"If you can put all your focus into the Super Rugby season, and get it done with, then have four weeks of preparations to start with your Test season and finish around the end of October."

The national teams would then go straight into their preparations for the year-end Test matches, he said.

"There has been talk of a global schedule, and I am in favour of it."

Spies' comments followed reports about proposed changes to the Super Rugby format for 2016.

A suggested change from the current three-conference format, splitting it into a two-conference model, had been mooted.

The two conferences would consist of Australia and New Zealand in one, with South Africa and possibly Argentina in the other.

This proposal would accommodate both the Lions' and the Southern Kings' inclusion in the competition.

The Kings' entry into the 2013 Super Rugby season, at the expense of the Lions, was a controversial solution to incorporating the Eastern Cape into top-flight rugby.

Following the two-leg, promotion-relegation matches, the Lions will be included in the 2014 season with the Kings missing out.

Spies said there was a case for two separate teams to play in Super Rugby and Currie Cup.

"The reality is that your Springbok players aren't playing in Currie Cup, even though it is South Africa's flagship competition. It is becoming more of a talent developer," he said.

"The focus should go more into Super Rugby and you should have two squads again."

The Springbok No.8 said he would also be in favour of suggestions to expand the Currie Cup back to an eight-team competition.

The Currie Cup changed to a six-team format in 2012 and, reverting back to the previous model could be a solution to incorporating the Kings into a top-tier competition.

"It is a great competition for your youngsters to play and that is the way it should be," Spies said.

"It wouldn't affect the top players and expanding it may give more players the opportunity at a higher level."

Spies had some encouraging words for the Blue Bulls, who suffered a 62-23 defeat by the Lions over the weekend.

"The Bulls have to look deep within themselves to get a good result," said Spies, who has been sidelined since he tore his biceps against Samoa in June.

"They can turn it around if they can beat the Sharks and get back on track."

The Pretoria side drew their first-round Currie Cup match against Western Province in Cape Town and narrowly beat Griquas the following week, before the Lions' demolition.

"We got the draw at Newlands, which showed we have a young team, but we are talented and we can do it," he said.

"It showed that we can win away from home. The players should bank on their talent and the structures at the Bulls."

SAPA

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