Stransky on why Cheetahs, Kings should fall
Cape Town - Former Springbok flyhalf Joel Stransky has clarified comments he made regarding the axing of South African teams in Super Rugby.
Stransky made headlines earlier this week when he told a New Zealand radio station that he hoped that South Africa would lose two teams in the competition.
The Kings and Cheetahs are the ones that need to go, Stransky said, insisting that the two franchises “aren’t financially sustainable” and "have a very low supporter base in Super Rugby”.
The Cheetahs responded to Stransky’s comments in a strongly worded statement, insisting the 1995 World Cup hero was ill-informed.
CLICK HERE to read the Cheetahs statement
In response to the Cheetahs, Stransky said he was not changing his viewpoint.
The former flyhalf went into more detail regarding the issue on Wednesday night’s First XV programme on SuperSport.
“I’ve copped a bit of criticism from some of the Cheetahs fans and I think it is worth unpacking this whole story a little bit. I was asked by one of the New Zealand rugby radio stations about the fact that there's a rumour that two South African teams are going to go... and that it's the Kings and Cheetahs. They asked me what my thoughts were on it.
“I think it is the right thing and I think it for the following reasons: One is, Super Rugby is a little broken at the moment. If it wasn’t broken then no-one would be trying to fix it, so there’s no doubt that SANZAAR is trying to fix it, the attendances are down, viewerships are down a little bit, the product is a little watered down, we have to fix it. And maybe this is one way of fixing it, to get back to a real strength versus strength system. And there’s not enough time now to go into all the absolute detail but what we do need is strength versus strength. We saw a couple of games on the weekend, the Sharks and the Lions was a spectacular game, but it was a one-sided affair in Cape Town. And that’s the reality.
“The other reason for me that it’s most important is that we have to fix the Springboks. To be No 7 or 8 in the world is just unacceptable. And we have to look at the big picture, we have to put the Boks on a pedestal and fix that issue. And to do that we’ve got to keep all our young players playing in this country. And to do that we’ve got to maybe pay them a little bit more, we’ve got to downscale the number of professional players, keep those players here, have a stronger set-up and if that means only four teams, then so be it.
“And I know the Cheetahs are very upset with me, they came out with a statement... and to be fair Harold Verster (managing director), Rory Duncan (director of rugby), the squad, Franco Smith (coach), they absolutely put their hearts and souls into that union. They do yeoman work there and they do a great job on a limited budget. And to be fair, I’ve said it, crowd attendances are down in Bloemfontein. And I noticed Harold and the Cheetahs didn’t come back and talk about crowd attendances in Super Rugby. He spoke about Currie Cup and there’s no doubt they have great Currie Cup following, but those fans are not in the stadium at Super Rugby games and if they want to be there and vote with their feet, get in the stands and come and support that team.
“And then most importantly, their financial status. The Cheetahs, again, in that statement spoke about the fact that they are profitable, which is fantastic, they run a great business there, but their model is not about paying huge salaries to big players. They’ve let the likes of Lood de Jager and Coenie Oosthuizen go. They don’t go out there and say ‘we’re going to win Super Rugby’ because if they wanted to win Super Rugby they need to keep those players and pay massive salaries. They’ve almost positioned themselves as a little bit of a feeder union. At that point, when those players are expensive, they let them go. So I feel for them, they do unbelievable work, it’s a great culture there, they are everybody in the whole country’s second team and we all love the way they play, but they are the underdog and unfortunately if it happens it’s going to be very sad for them.
"But, I would stress, it's not our decision, it's not something we have any say in. It's going to be what SANZAAR and what SA Rugby decide..."