Northern Hemisphere is heading south

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    2011 could see Northern Hemisphere players heading south of the equator in large numbers following a new agreement reached by NZRU with their Super 15 franchises.

    Next year New Zealand will have to find 20 new professional players as Super 15 squads expand from 28 to a minimum of 30 and maximum of 32. Every coach will want 32 – but from where will they come?

    In reports in the NZ Herald, it’s said that agreement has been reached to begin introducing foreign players to generate commercial interest and greater diversity. It will also give a chance for Argentine players to move up several steps to get them ready for the much higher-level of rugby in the south prior to them joining the Four Nations in 2012.

    It’s happened already with players such as Juan Martin Hernandez, Gregor Townsend and Freddie Michalak visiting SA teams in recent years.

    The ARU amended their rules so each Super 14 team can hire international stars – one marquee and one junior. And the Rebels have been actively recruiting north of the hemisphere border.

    New Zealand has been lagging because of fears that such a policy would deny a local player a chance to develop and shine. There have been one or two who’ve got under the door, however, under the new system, the NZRU will not block overseas recruitment unless the pay demands are too high. The NZRU could also say no if too many players are being recruited in the same position.

    The New Zealand Players Association has greeted the decision with something approaching guarded enthusiasm, though they may feel like turkeys welcoming the arrival of Thanksgiving.

    As a spokesman said: “It could generate a bit of interest and a bit of cross-fertilisation – with South Africans and Australians and others coming here. The most important thing, though, is that we don’t end up with five first-fives here, blocking pathways. The money has to be right, too. We can’t have offshore players coming at any price, as the payments are coming out of the player pool.”

    Franchises will be able to offer overseas recruits a max of NZ$180,000 a season. Reports that one J Wilkinson is earning €408,000 (NZ$760,000) a season (after tax) puts that contribution into perspective. Any more will have to come from the NZRU and/or a third party.

    Interestingly, players from the Pacific Islands will not count as overseas recruits as is the case now.

    While the New Zealand market will be open to players from all countries, the Herald thinks it’s likely South African and Australian players will be of most interest to them, as they will have shown they can handle the pace and intensity of Super Rugby. And possibly some from Argentina.

    Any players contemplating a move will have to consider the impact it will have on their test chances. For some NH players nearing the end of their test career, this may appeal to try out something different if they’ve shored up their bank balance sufficiently. For others, it may be a chance to kick-start a flagging career.

    And for some of the younger ones, it’s a tempting offer to try out something new. Jamie Heaslip, the Leinster and Ireland No. 8 probably had his ear bent previously by Rocky Elsom when he was recently quoted as saying he’d like to try rugby in the S14. The attraction of a different climate, culture and a much shorter playing season than the NH were some of the reasons he stated.

    However, for the market to work, players must be able to sustain test careers.

    Nevertheless, with the Rebels starting up and New Zealand squads expanding, there are places for 50 more players next season.

    Who’d you like to see shifting within SANZAR or heading south to try their hand?

    Have Your Say



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    The Crowd Says (60)

    • May 17th 2010 @ 6:01am
      MBTGOG said | May 17th 2010 @ 6:01am | ! Report

      Interesting move. Good one I say. It will add a new flavour and variation to the comp down there.

      I was pretty sure Pacific Islanders counted as foreigners. That’s why Pat Lam had to fight so hard to get Viliame Maafua into their squad this season.

    • May 17th 2010 @ 6:45am
      Matt said | May 17th 2010 @ 6:45am | ! Report

      PI’s are currently counted as foreign (although exceptions can be made if you can prove that no local talent worthy of a place is being denied, like the case of Ma’afu). But I think it’s a good call to allow PI’s into NZ Super sides as a way of keeping them available to their national teams for the Pacific Nations Cup. It’s about time that the Island boys were looked after better.

      It’d be nice if the Aussie teams would do the same (allow 2 foreigners and an exemption for PI’s) too and that SARU would allow other African players to play for the Bulls, Cheetahs etc and then be available to play for their home nation in African International Rugby.

      Surely the expansion to a Super 18 (around 2013/14) is a great idea.
      6 Teams in each of the 3 SANZAR nations (Southern Spears in RSA, West Sydney Rams in AUS and Central Vikings or a 2nd Auckland team in NZ). This would allows more places to be available for Tier 2 national players (like Zimbabwe, Namibia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and PNG) and Argentineans.

      With France tightening their belts on foreigners it’d be great to see some of the Pacific Flyers returning to Super Rugby. But I think the players I’d love to see the most are the Argies. The Chiefs would love some of their tight 5 players, particularly front rowers, and the Blues could do with some strong locks/tall loosies to help them add a grinding element to their razzle dazzle. Highlanders would love some fire in their midfield and more depth in all areas. Crusaders and Hurricanes are probably happy with their current squad strengths based around NZers. But that’s the beauty of the option, you can bring in foreigners if you want. Or just stick to what you have if it works for you.

      If only the NH sides would introduce similar rules for their Club competitions; 2-3 foreigners per teams within exemption for the use of Tier 2 and 3 national players (Romania, Georgia etc). Then all nations would be able to pay their own countrymen whatever they wanted and could stop poaching each others, which will drive the (amateur) game broke in many countries.

      • May 17th 2010 @ 12:18pm
        SamSport said | May 17th 2010 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

        PI’s have always been exempt from the foreign player rules in NZ. There have been heaps of pacific players to have played Super 14/12 rugby in New Zealand (I’m talking players who play for Samoa/Fiji/Tonga, not New Zealanders of pacific heritage). It’s not a new rule. Australia should follow suit and treat PI players as locals.

        • May 17th 2010 @ 2:57pm
          Jason said | May 17th 2010 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

          They do treat them as locals, as long as they decide to play for the Wallabies…

        • May 19th 2010 @ 7:15am
          Matt said | May 19th 2010 @ 7:15am | ! Report

          Nah, PI’s haven’t been exempt. The system was just more relaxed towards their inclusion, which makes sense.
          Ma’afu was close to not being selected for the Blues this season because of his ineligibility (due to Tongan Sevens selection). But Lam got the required signoff and he got selected.

          http://tvnz.co.nz/rugby-news/lam-s-faith-in-ma-afu-pays-off-3449111

          Interestingly, Ma’afu stuck it out for 5 or 6 years in provincial rugby and when he finally get’s his break to Super rugby, after Lam took a punt and pulled string for him, he straigt away signs to go overseas. I wonder if Lam feels slightly used?

    • May 17th 2010 @ 8:23am
      Brett McKay said | May 17th 2010 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      Pots, this is the first I’ve heard or read about this, but I’d say it’s a long time coming. But is this SANZAR-wide, or is it just a NZ thing? Either way, you’d imagine the next logical step is for SANZAR players to be able to retain their national eligibility, something plenty of us have suggested will happen sooner rather than later…

      • May 17th 2010 @ 8:28am
        hammer said | May 17th 2010 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        “something plenty of us have suggested will happen sooner rather than later”

        yeah but not those that matter – Tew and the NZRFU have been firm on this point – and Tew reiterated again a few weeks back that there would no contemplation of it happening

        • Roar Guru

          May 17th 2010 @ 8:39am
          Poth Ale said | May 17th 2010 @ 8:39am | ! Report

          Do you mean the new policy of transfer or the national eligibility, hammer?

        • May 17th 2010 @ 8:53am
          Brett McKay said | May 17th 2010 @ 8:53am | ! Report

          true Hammer, by “plenty of us” I meant here on The Roar. The day we start influencing international rugby policy, well look out!! The term “Drunk with power” would be an understatement…

      • May 17th 2010 @ 5:37pm
        Sam Taulelei said | May 17th 2010 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

        What hasn’t been reported on the Roar is the IRB’s decision to alter regulation nine governing the release of international players from club duty to play test matches. This was one of the obstacles facing Argentina to be included in a Four Nations tournament with most of their top players signed to European clubs. The change is set to take effect from June 1, 2012 and will ensure the release period is aligned with the new dates for the Four Nations from August to early October.

        In conjunction with these agreements to recruit foreign players into NZ Super 15 squads the door has been opened for players signed to overseas clubs to still play SANZAR tests and possibly the November tour tests. Kiwi journalists put the question to Steve Tew on whether this has left the way open for Carl Hayman to still play in the world cup next year but Tew was non committal and said that this change from a NZ perspective requires careful process as we can’t compete financially against the higher salaries offered from overseas clubs.

    • Roar Guru

      May 17th 2010 @ 8:36am
      Poth Ale said | May 17th 2010 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      “If only the NH sides would introduce similar rules for their Club competitions; 2-3 foreigners per teams within exemption for the use of Tier 2 and 3 national players (Romania, Georgia etc). Then all nations would be able to pay their own countrymen whatever they wanted and could stop poaching each others, which will drive the (amateur) game broke in many countries.”

      Some comments/questions, Matt, if I may:

      Whilst I know the statement about foreigners being poached might apply to Rocky Elsom or Jean de Villiers, but given their one-year tenure, it’s not really applicable.

      Would players such as Paul Warwick, Doug Howlett, Julien Brugnaut, CJ van der Linde, B J Botha, Clinton Schiscofke, Lifiemi Mafi, Shaun Berne all fall into the same bracket of being poached players? Previous comments on here would have suggested that SH players who had headed north for the dirty euro as being on their way out at test level, and they weren’t that great anyway.

      When Leinster or Munster play their first XV, how many foreign players do you think they are playing?

      Actually, maybe I should ask what you mean by foreign first of all? In the case of Ireland, for example, would you have to be born in Ireland/hold an Irish passport? What about a person born in the UK/holding a UK passport – would they be foreign? Or do you mean non-EU?

      I notice despite the title of the article that you have focussed purely on SH players and the only NH based players are the Argentines. Do you not figure that players such as James Hook, Brian O’Driscoll, Jamie Heaslip, Hernadez, Wilkinson would be worthwhile attracting?

      • May 19th 2010 @ 7:35am
        Matt said | May 19th 2010 @ 7:35am | ! Report

        For all the money in Europe Pothale there is also significant debts. Clubs like Stade Francais, the great showmen of European rugby, have had their players take a 3% pay cut to help the club alleviate debts.

        Of ALL the English and French clubs how many would be sustainable without a private individual subsidising them?

        I’m not having a go at the NH model, but I am truely fearful (from a Rugby supporter perspective) that our game is becoming financially burdered because of escalating player contracts. The money is far larger in Europe than in the SH, so I doubt there’ll be many players coming south in numbers. The only exception, which I alluded to, is Argentinean players who could still earn more in Super Rugby than they could in Argentinean Rugby. But the big money in Europe is not being driven by TV deals or large crowds, it is being driven by private ownership (which is not a sustainable model).

        Teams like Toulon, who are getting their money from a private individual, are driving up the market prices to levels that no one else can match. What this does though is push all prices up to levels beyond the reach of clubs, who must then take on debt to stay competitive.

        How is it good for the game of Rugby in general if Carl Hayman is being paid millions to play for Toulon at the expense of seeing him at the World Cup? Is it good for clubs to be relegated from the French Top 14 because of bankruptcy?

        I’m not saying that player transfers are the issue, more that the way it’s being funded is the issue. I have no problem with European clubs targeting Tier 2 nation players, because this is strengthening the game in that Tier 2 county by giving opportunities and careers to players who don’t otherwise have it. But French clubs targeting Kiwis or Aussies just weakens the game in these nations where players already have plenty of opportunity. And the SANZAR unions are having to play more tests each season and play more nights game per season and play massive cross border competitions across the Indian and Tasman Oceans because clubs in Europe are overspending on foreign talent to try and buys championships.

        Given your Irish centric commemts maybe I hit a raw nerve, to the degree that you feel you have to defend them? But truthfully the Irish model is closer to what it should be like globally. The reason for this is the Irish provinces are run by the IRU, so their first aim is the good of the Irish game (not the Munster or Leinster game). The Irish teams also have far less foreigners on average and are funded by gate and tv money (channelled through the national Union). You also have a team like Connacht who don’t have to take on debt to stay alive. They are supported by the Irish system because they help the game grow in Ireland. The only thing I’d like to see more from the Irish is in Tier 2 player signings, but then that is talent dependent.

        • Roar Guru

          May 19th 2010 @ 8:37am
          Poth Ale said | May 19th 2010 @ 8:37am | ! Report

          Thanks for the detailed response, Matt.

          It’s less a raw nerve about Ireland that you hit, rather the one that reacts to NH sides all being lumped into one homogenous behaviour or mindset, when that’s not always true or accurate.

          The Irish centric comments were more to illustrate a point, and is also true for Italy, Scotland and Wales who all have regional/provincial set-ups. Italy has created a new franchise region to play in the Magners next year. And their joining will bring a welcome financial fillip through Italian TV and union money.

          Central contracting has been successful.

          In England, the salary cap is a lot less than France and so has inhibited the import of some players and expedited the export of others to France. Escalating player contracts are really occuring in France only as opposed to being NH-wide. As you’re no doubt aware, the cap in France is being lowered next year and a 3% cut is already on the way as you state.

          And yes there are significant debts – amongst some clubs. But if this points to shrinking costs in both England and France, the the market will dictate lower-value contracts over time. The advent of the Four Nations will be interesting to see the level of Argentine outflow to the South.

          French clubs targeting Kiwis and Aussies? Are there really that many that it’s a cause for concern? Sonny Bill is a former League player – not derived from union. Tana Umaga was on his last legs. Jerry Collins left France and went to Wales – it wasn’t for the bigger money.

          The players I mentioned previously playing in Ireland – are they really poached players that have denuded nations to such an extent they have to play more tests and more night time games? Or are you really just talking about New Zealand players?

          (By the way, Connacht, by any normal standard shouldn’t be competing in the Magners. They are woefully undersupported and under-financed by the IRFU. They can only operate on single year contracts – a huge weakness in negotiation – and operate on a shoestring budget. They take in a lot of young Tier 2 players. The gates go to the provincial clubs directly, not channelled through IRFU. Why do you think Munster built themselves a brand new 26,000 seater stadium to go along with their second stadium in Musgrave Park.)

          • May 19th 2010 @ 10:19am
            Matt said | May 19th 2010 @ 10:19am | ! Report

            It certainly appears that France are pushing up contract prices in general though, across the game globally.
            With the French offering more money other nations/teams are forced to raise their offers in order to retain players. So everyone is offering more money to try to attract players and less money is available to support the games grass roots.

            Slightly off topic Pothale, but is it true that Ireland has a tax break system for Sports starts too? Does this explain why there are so few high profile Irish players leaving for England and France (especially in comparison to Wales and Scotland)?

            There has been a lull of late with SH players transferring north, but after 2011 you can bet there’ll be another wave of players heading north to big offers. Already there are players like Tamati Ellison, who earned his first AB’s cap at the end of last season, signing to a club in Japan to beat the rush. Likewise Tim Bateman (a 22 year old Junior All Black – to Japan) and Daniel Bowden (a 24 year old NZ age grade star – to London Irish) have both signed to leave the Crusaders for 2010. As has Hooker Ti’i Paulo after he’s finally managed to make the Crusaders No.2 jersey his own, he’s going to Stade Francais. Another fringe All Black leaving from the Crusaders is No.8 Thomas Waldrom, who is heading for Leicester. The Blues have also lost No.8 Viliami Ma’afu and All Black winger Anthony Tuitavake.

            All that in the year before a home World Cup doesn’t bode well. Not to mention those below the Super 14 level (that is the top 140 rugby players in NZ) who have/are leaving.

            But the fact is that the NZ union is forced into having the All Blacks play 14 tests a season, including yet ANOTHER grandslam this season, plus a 4th Bledisloe Cup test in Asia for the 3rd year running. On top of that they play the Boks 3 times, and the Wallabies 3 times in the Tri-Nations. All of this is not because they want the NZ players to play more, it is because they NEED the money to keep the contracts up to a level that is closer to the big european money.

            The Boks are also playing back to back games this June in different Hemispheres in order to gain more money, while the Aussies and Kiwis look for more ways to tack Barbarians games and Australian Barbarians games and NZ Maori and revenue sharing NH games onto their season to squeeze more money from their major cash cow.

            So while there isn’t a HUGE number of players heading to the NH this season Pothale, the prices hikes being driven by the crazy egotistical French (followed by the grass is greener across the channel/ the sky is falling on the Premiership English) are forcing the SH into ridiculous actions to try and keep their players from leaving.

            All this does is annoy the SH rugby public more and serve up a undigestible calader of fixtures where the alure and meaning of test match rugby is lost. And the game then struggles for support in these countries.

            So, going back to the original post you can see the perspective I was using when I said:

            β€œIf only the NH sides would introduce similar rules for their Club competitions; 2-3 foreigners per teams within exemption for the use of Tier 2 and 3 national players (Romania, Georgia etc). Then all nations would be able to pay their own countrymen whatever they wanted and could stop poaching each others, which will drive the (amateur) game broke in many countries.”

            If a foreign player limit was put on Tier 1 imports, but an open exemption was made for Tier 2 and 3 nations then the global game would be better off and unions like SARU, ARU and NZRU could pump more money into supporting the grass roots of the Sport and even be able to play games/support neighbouring developing nations like the Pacific Islands, PNG, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

            So the whole game of rugby benefits because we’re not all looking at each others players enviously and paying them more than the game can sustain.

            Just an opinion…:)

            • Roar Guru

              May 19th 2010 @ 10:43am
              Poth Ale said | May 19th 2010 @ 10:43am | ! Report

              Matt – gotcha.

              It’s all France’s fault really then. Not the entire NH. πŸ™‚

              Yes Ireland does have a tax break system for certain of its sports stars. There is a caveat that they must finish their playing career in Ireland though. Thus sneaking off to France for a last hurrah and payday is not as attractive. Interestingly, Ronan O’Gara was quoted recently that he’d like to finish his playing career with a Top 14 club. This was quickly clarified to his “post-paying career” in the top 14 as a kicking coach or something similar. Which to be fair, he’s got the track record for.

              The Boks are not sending any players from South Africa for the Wales match. the Welsh match is purely at the Welsh behest who ‘begged’ the SA to play. So Divvy is using an all-NH lineup for the match.

              I note the examples of players you have given are all New Zealand players, so is the problem mainly a New Zealand one really?

              The return of more test matches and midweek games is at the behest of the SANZAR unions led by Tew and O’Neill. And yet both are quoted as saying they want to play less test matches after 2012.

              That’s contradictory behaviour if they’re intent on the sole pursuit of more revenue.

              You also have to consider the wisdom of expanding the S14 to 15 when it’s obvious that teams like Highlanders, Lions, Cheetahs and Force are all struggling to keep up. Player pools are being diluted further and money is being stretched even thinner.

              These actions have their own negative impact, notwithstanding any player drain to the North in piursuit of more money. And indeed will possibly only serve to perpetuate it. As commented elsewhere, the expansion of the squads next year is going to require a lot more salaries to be paid.

              SANZAR can’t keep pointing the finger at the north all the time.

              • May 19th 2010 @ 10:48am
                Jerry said | May 19th 2010 @ 10:48am | ! Report

                “as a kicking coach or something similar. Which to be fair, he’s got the track record for”

                As long as it’s not a tackling coach…

              • Roar Guru

                May 19th 2010 @ 10:59am
                Poth Ale said | May 19th 2010 @ 10:59am | ! Report

                I figured someone would chip that one in.

                His tackling record and concession of tries is actually not that high, and he has actually pulled off a number of try-saving/match-winning tackles for Ireland and Munster but the perception will stay with him, along with his dazed stumble into a certain Bok 10 for a penalty. πŸ™‚

              • May 19th 2010 @ 11:18am
                Jerry said | May 19th 2010 @ 11:18am | ! Report

                He’s a poor tackler but he tries hard. Also, I think both Munster and Ireland expect people to target his channel so are pretty good at attacks down. He tends to get exposed on 3rd or 4th phase and in broken play when the defensive structure breaks down.

              • May 19th 2010 @ 12:27pm
                Matt said | May 19th 2010 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

                Any idea which “certain” sports stars from Irish Rugby are included in this Tax system Pothale? Are we just talking the top 10 Irish players (O’Driscoll, O’Connell, O’Gara etc) or does it go further to the Tomas O’Leary’s and Keith Earles of the team? Or even further?

                Do you think if Ireland didn’t have this tax break system then your opinion of foreign investment might be different also? What if BOD (31), O’Gara (33) and O’Connell (30) had headed off-shore after the 07 World Cup or the 09 Lions tour to “experience a different culture” “after serving rugby in the country” for 10 years?

                It’s a little bit difficult to articulate the point I’m trying to make when Ireland really doesn’t suffer at all from the player drain. I guess the motivation for change is only there when it’s a direct affect (as English rugby has finally found out recently, with Haskell, Flutey, Wilkinson etc).

                But it’s true that the major issue at the moment is the French clubs and their sugar daddy’s.
                Before that though it was mainly Premiership clubs. But players like Howlett, Mafi, Nacewa, Tuitupou, Tipoki and Boss would have been nice to keep too πŸ˜‰

                More seriously though, if you look at the success and support that Leinster and Munster have had in Europe, with such a small number of import players, then you really have to question why there is this facination in France (and in some English/Welsh teams) with luring large numbers of SH players to big pay packets?

                Leinster and Munster both have worryingly foreign coaching groups though!

                Head Coach – Michael Cheika – Australia (soon to be Joe Shmidt from NZ)
                Consultant Coach – Alan Gaffney – Australia
                Backs Coach – Chris Whitaker – Australia
                Forwards Coach – Jono Gibbes – New Zealand
                Defence Coach – Kurt McQuilkin – New Zealand

                Director of Rugby – Tony McGahan – Australia
                Backs Coach – Laurie Fisher – Australia
                Backs Coach – Jason Holland – New Zealand
                Strength and Conditioning – Paul Darbyshire – England
                Team Manager – Shaun Payne – South Africa

                Come on Pothale, do you reckon that the Wales vs Springboks game is really just at the behest of Wales? Why would the South Africans bother with this game, apart from illustrating just how many of their players have been lured by the pound and euro? This game, and the succes of Saracens, more than anything shows that it is certainly not just a NZ issue.

                As the for the new 3 week tours, it certainly isn’t an increase in test matches at all. NZ has received 3 match tours for a good while now. Always 2 tests vs one team and a 3rd vs someone else. So your facts are wrong there, because there won’t be any more test matches because of this change. What there will be is more midweek games in the provinces and more interest due to the hosting of a proper tour.

                And what will these new 3 test tours + midweek games do. Bring more money for the ARU and NZRU and seek to rebuild the gap with the provinces that have been damaged.

                I will admit that the Highlanders are struggling financially at the moment, as I’m sure the Lions must be. But the Force and Cheetahs are doing fine. And with the expanded competition comes more money for everyone, which will be evenly distributed giving all teams more money to make up for the longer season. On top of that there will be 2 less games against foreign teams meaning less travel costs. Conversely there will be more local games which bring bigger crowds and bigger TV audiences, so the income will go up on average per game. Teams will go up from 28 to 30 or 32 players per team, so that an increase of 7-14%. That’s not really going to dilute the playing pool THAT much, certainly in NZ and South Africa. In NZ there will also be a new contracting system that will see the talent spread around more evenly, so the Highlanders should get a fairer shot at building a strong team. And the Rebels have obviously been given exemption to contract 10 foreigners to help build their team. This, coupled with a strong showing for 3 of 4 teams Aussie teams which exposed a good number of youngsters, will see the Aussie in reasonable stead next season.

                But you are right that the expansion will cost more money. It means that more players will get paid more money, but it was a change that was needed in order to keep the talent in the SANZAR countries and not leaving overseas. The extra money is being covered by there being more games played. So it’s that same trend again. The SH playing more games in order to pay their players more money to keep them from leaving.

                The fingers still pointing I guess

              • Roar Guru

                May 19th 2010 @ 10:34pm
                Poth Ale said | May 19th 2010 @ 10:34pm | ! Report

                Matt – I’m gonna jump this conversation down to the end of this thread cos it’s getting a bit long in this section.

    • May 17th 2010 @ 8:58am
      True Tah said | May 17th 2010 @ 8:58am | ! Report

      Look at the experience of the Australian super rugby sides with their foreign players.

      Qld – Braid was the marquee player and he was fantastic this season. I think Ezra Taylor was the non-marquee player.

      ACT – dont think they used this system.

      Force – Pretorius got injured without playing a game.

      NSW – Anesi was the marquee but hardly set the world alight, he might have been an All Black, but he played all of one test, and that was against Fiji. Roodt was the non-marquee player, but he never even got into the matchday squad!

      • Roar Guru

        May 17th 2010 @ 9:13am
        Poth Ale said | May 17th 2010 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        Well, there’s the difference really between S14 and NH leagues.

        With NH clubs/provinces, they have to plan their way around 18/22/26 league matches. Plus another 2 playoff matches.
        Minimum of 6 Heineken Pool matches, plus another 3 for those going all the way.
        The British & Irish A Players are now playing in the British & Irish Cup which finished today.
        Welsh & Enlgish clubs also play in the Anglo-Welsh cup.

        And you’ve got the 6 Nations thrown into the middle of that for further scheduling and absence of Test Players.

        At 13 games plus two playoffs the S14 is a doddle to plan for in comparison. I’m assuming the SA S14 teams don’t cut across into the Vodacom Cup/Currie Cup but I could be wrong in this.

        Next year is going to be a lot more interesting and the bigger squads will definitely be needed.

        • May 17th 2010 @ 2:51pm
          el gamba said | May 17th 2010 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

          Some good points Pots and especially around squad depth.

          The Reds have been a revelation this year but had they needed to play another few games then they were really starting to scratch the cupboard.

          The Force, also, were caught pretty short early on though they probably had a worse run than most.

          With more games and test match rugby mid season for teams to have the depth to rest a top player to get over week to week bumps and bruises will be important. It may not be the teams with the best starting XV but the teams with the best 32 that make the finals..

      • May 17th 2010 @ 9:16am
        Jerry said | May 17th 2010 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        David Hill got an exemption to take over the marquee spot for the Force though, and he was pretty good for them (even though, like with Anesi, he stretches the definition of “marquee” big time)

    • May 17th 2010 @ 12:54pm
      King of the Gorganites said | May 17th 2010 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

      Some Northern hemisphere players heading to super rugby will benefit both hemispheres IMO. With Delve and Ciparini venturing the Melbourne, i believe that will do a great deal for spiecy up super rugby and give it a more international flavour. I am a bit disappointed that the rebels have yet to sign any argentine players yet. i thought it would be a good opportunity to strengthen the tight 5 depth.

      generally i have been surprised/disappointed with the lack of argentine players linknig with super rugby teams. if argentina want to be as competitve as possible in the 4 nations, then they need to have the bulk of their playing squad based in the south. that would give them exposure to the faste pace of southern hemisphere rugyb along with avoiding fatigue/lack of match fitness that will occur if they remain based in the north.

      any ideas on how to lure argies down south?

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