Mehrtens: Time for SA to go
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:34
Better for the development of the game
Andrew Mehrtens believes that the future of rugby should grow along provincialism and tribal lines, intending a separation of Australasian rugby from South Africa.
The former All Black flyhalf's primary argument is that the time-zones and travelling distance are playing havoc with public interest within different regions in Super Rugby.
Mehrtens has noted that games played in South Africa which are broadcasted in the early hours of the morning are not drawing the same interest as local derbies in New Zealand and Australia.
Perhaps the way forward for South African teams would be an alignment with the European clubs, similar time zones would allow for interest in both regions to be peaked - according to Mehrtens.
However, a consideration is that the European Professional Club Rugby organisation has very recently been formed, consolidating the European competition.
As such, it would be foolish to believe that South Africa would be welcomed in with open arms.
Mehrtens is looking for Australia and New Zealand to align themselves with Japan and the Pacific Islands - once again to keep within similar time-zones.
In all actuality, the IRB would be the one to decide on a matter of this magnitude and at present they are more focused on gaining a consensus on a global international window.
"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," Mehrtens said in a column for Fairfax NZ News.
"Where it's going to end up in 20 years' time is having competitions within time zones, and the sooner we get to that point the better for the development of the game.
"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.
"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.
"Any re-alignment, though, would need to be led by the IRB. If there's to be any form of consensus or consistency with a global international window, it has to come from them," he added.
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