Steyn believes future of South African Rugby lies in the north

Two-time world cup winner Frans Steyn has backed a realignment of South African rugby saying he sees merits in southern and northern hemisphere rugby
South Africa’s centre Frans Steyn (C) dives a scores a try past Canada’s centre Ciaran Hearn (down) and Canada’s scrum-half Phil Mack (up) during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between South Africa and Canada at the Kobe Misaki Stadium in Kobe on October 8, 2019. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Two-time world cup winner Frans Steyn has backed a realignment of South African rugby saying he sees merits in southern and northern hemisphere rugby but believed South Africa would be better served in Europe.

The southern hemisphere’s governing body SANZAAR is contemplating its long-term future for Super Rugby and at the same time, the sport’s governing body, World Rugby, is looking at pushing ahead with a global season under the promises of newly re-elected chairperson Bill Beaumont.

Steyn said a realignment would make sense for South African rugby which keeps losing its best talent to the cash-rich northern clubs. In a wide-ranging interview with the Rugby Pass website, Steyn said he saw merits in southern and northern hemisphere rugby, but believed South Africa would be better served in Europe.

“A lot of the time, decisions are made that are not best for South African rugby,” Steyn told Rugby Pass. “If there are two New Zealand teams in the Super Rugby final I’d bet most of the TV audience for that game came from South Africa, but South Africa gets the least money.

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“People can’t say that northern hemisphere rugby is s***. I’ve been playing here for a while now, and if they come to the north, it will be good for South Africa, and the rugby will be good, it will be tough every week.

“It will still be good if they stay in the south, but at the moment, we are losing players, we can’t spend rand against the pound, so it’s definitely something to look at. I would go north.”

Steyn knows a thing or two about northern hemisphere rugby, having played for French clubs Racing 92 (2009-2012) and Montpellier (2016-2020). In between his French stints, he was at the Toshiba Brave Lupus in Japan (2014-2016). The 67-Test veteran also had two spells at the Sharks – 2006-2009 and 2013-2014.

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Steyn, who won the World Cup with the Springboks in 2007 and 2019, recently returned to Bloemfontein and signed a two-year deal with the Cheetahs, starting on 1 July. The Cheetahs already take part in a northern hemisphere competition alongside the Southern Kings in the Pro14 where he hopes to make history.

“We need to win something. I’m not going there just to roll over and die. We need to build something special, something that can last a long time. I played there when I was younger, and it’s very close to my heart.

“I’m trying to get players to go back there, some of the older players. The money is the issue, but it will be good if we can get a Bismarck to come and help. The Cheetahs are playing against Leinster and Munster, a lot of international players, and you need quality and experience to win competitions.”

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