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.
“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.
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.”
Business rescue team rule out mid-June return for SAA flights
South African Airways business rescue practitioners have rejected an “unvetted” statement released by the state-owned airline indicating plans to resume domestic flights from mid-June.
The national carrier had on Tuesday, announced that its planes will be back in the skies between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
But Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, the business rescue administrators, say the airline had breached communications protocol by issuing a statement which “created an unfair expectation on our relevant stakeholders, including SAA’s customers, as well as employees who are on unpaid absence as a result of the travel ban which led to the halting of the company’s operations, compounding its financial distress.”
SAA’s media statement had gone out without the approval of the practitioners as demanded by the business rescue procedure.
With the government of South Africa announcing that the country will enter into lockdown alert level 3 from June 1, domestic air travel will be permitted but only for business purposes.
The business rescue practitioners said SAA planes will remain grounded until a better understanding of what the level 3 regulations entail.
Zambia’s Zesco, Chinese firm enter $548 man deal
Zesco Limited, Zambia’s state-owned electricity company, has signed contracts worth $548 million with Power China to develop three solar power plants that will add 600 megawatts (MW) to the national grid.
The three contracts are a step towards diversifying renewable energy for the country, which relies heavily on hydropower and has faced electricity shortages partly due to droughts.
“The three-grid solar PV projects will have a capacity of 200 MW each,” Zesco Managing Director, Victor Mundende said in the statement, adding that the power plants will boost access to electricity and enhance industrial development. A generating date is yet to be disclosed.
Zambia’s power supply deficit has grown by nearly 20% since September, State power utility, Zesco announced in March, despite hefty price hikes and the government’s fast-tracking of support for green energy projects.
Zesco’s Director of Corporate Services Patrick Mwila said in March the electricity deficit had grown to 810 megawatts (MW) from a 690 MW gap in September last year. E
Sharks happy to hold on to Rugby World Cup stars
South African rugby side happy to hold on to Springboks Rugby World Cup stars Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi.
South African rugby side The Sharks have expressed their joy at holding on to Springboks Rugby World Cup stars Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a major shakeup in world and South African rugby as many high-profile players have left their clubs for pastures green.
Sharks have been able to retain the services of Am and Mapimpi but lost Springbok centre Andre Esterhuizen who agreed a deal before the Super Rugby season kicked off.
Am had led the Sharks to the top of the Super Rugby table before the season was called off and was made the skipper at the start of the season.
Eduard Coetzee, Sharks CEO said he is delighted to have the pair in the team and never wanted to put pressure on them to stay at the club.
Coetzee was happy with coach Sean Everitt for the impact he has had on the team since his appointment.
“This has been quite an emotional and difficult time. What we said to the players is that one way or another they’d be doing nothing wrong” Coetzee said.
“It was not like they asked for it [the escape clause], but it was an option given to them, and then it was up to them as individuals on how to handle it.
“I think they have dealt with it really well, and it was done on a platform of respect. I think it speaks volumes for the culture we’ve established, and how [coach] Sean [Everitt] has been able to get the team really close.”
With Am and Mapimpi staying with the team, Sharks have reatained Curwin Bosch, Thomas du Toit, JJ van der Merscht, Ruben van Heerden and Aphelele Fassi.
“It shows the players’ confidence in what we’re doing,’ Coetzee went on to say.
“It’s backing up what we’re putting in place and shows that players can trust us. We’re pretty relieved, but also just very happy that no one else is heading out the door.
South Africa Rugby had initiated a 21-day contract exit window in April so players could make moves to other clubs thereby helping the financial part of the game as play has been suspended.