Cape Town - Former Springbok lock Alistair Hargreaves says the Super Rugby format has become “a joke” and he won’t be surprised to see more South African teams join European competitions in future.
The Cheetahs and Southern Kings recently joined Europe’s PRO14 after being excluded from the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby competition.
Organisers reduced the number of teams from 18 to 15 for 2018, with Australia’s Western Force also axed.
Hargreaves, who played four Tests for the Springboks between 2010 and 2011, spent several seasons at English club Saracens before retiring in 2016 due to ongoing concussion problems.
In an exclusive interview with Sport24, Hargreaves said Super Rugby’s format has become problematic due to poor leadership at the top.
“For many years, Super Rugby was known both far and wide as the best tournament on earth, but the format is now a joke in itself. The reality is that the Super Rugby executives got greedy and always wanted more without thinking about what was best for the players and the game as whole. The men in suits are starting to realise their mistakes - by reducing the number of Super Rugby teams from 2018 - but what has happened to the Western Force is an absolute tragedy. Their players were sold a dream and then suddenly the wheels fell off. I believe the current state Super Rugby finds itself in comes down to very poor leadership from the top,” Hargreaves said.
Hargreaves said he was excited seeing the Cheetahs and Kings play in the PRO14.
“The new-look PRO14 competition is a fantastic concept and one that we are all watching very closely to see if that is going to be the future route for other South African teams. When the SANZAAR TV deal expires in 2020, I would be very surprised if a few of the bigger unions in South Africa don’t put their hands up to have a dip in the northern hemisphere. The reality is there are too many local derbies in Super Rugby and the competition has become watered down.”