‘These South African teams are not yet the polished sides of the past’

Bobby Skinstad believes the best is still to come from South Africa’s URC franchises.

Image: Thinus Maritz/INPHO

BOBBY SKINSTAD, THE former South African No8, has stated his belief that the migration of his country’s four leading sides from Super Rugby to the URC will lead to a period of dominance in European rugby.

The Bulls, Stormers and Sharks will participate in next season’s Champions Cup after qualifying for the competition via the URC. With three of their four sides making the URC play-offs, and two reaching the semi-finals, it is clear that a powerhouse has emerged in European rugby.

And yet Skinstad is convinced there is more to come.

The 2007 World Cup winning backrower said: “I might get a wrap over the knuckles to say it but these South African teams are not yet the polished teams that they can be and have been in the past.

“We saw a Bulls team being incredibly dominant in Super Rugby when the opponents at that time were of the same international standard, I have no doubt in my mind about that, as the best club or provincial teams in the world.

“You had the Crusaders, the Chiefs, the Blues, the Reds, the Brumbies in their pomp. They would play at the same level as La Rochelle, Toulon, Stade Francais, Leinster, Ulster, Munster, Ospreys, the biggest teams in world rugby.

“So the South African teams at their best will absolutely be competitive in this tournament and could go on to win it in the future. They are not going to dominate (the Champions Cup) year in and year out because we haven’t seen that from any team.” 

However, they have the potential to be regular visitors to the URC’s play-offs. All four sides reached at least one Super Rugby final in their history, with only the Bulls proving victorious in a decider. Skinstad sees benefits stemming from their relocation.

“My unequivocal view on this is that it is manna from heaven from the South African rugby side and the future of South African rugby,” he said.

“If it looks a bit haphazard then things sometimes have to look haphazard for a while before they get straightened out.

“This will be the best place to play rugby.”

Bulls coach Jake White – whose side take on Leinster this evening – tried a little too hard in his attempt to load the pressure on the hosts.

“Leinster is a phenomenal side that is very well-coached and is full of international players. You look at their bench and they have players who have more caps for the club than the entire Vodacom Bulls team combined.

“So we are definitely up against a quality side and it will be a great challenge.

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“This Leinster team are the benchmark. But that’s what makes sport so exciting.

“People follow teams because at some point there comes a result that people don’t expect and they can say I was there.”

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About the author:

Garry Doyle

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