Schalk: Ditch the Conference system!

    2016-07-25 06:50

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - Perhaps he was speaking with the freedom of a man who knows he will not play Super Rugby again, but Schalk Burger had a full go at the tournament format on Saturday night.

    The 86-Test Springbok veteran had just led the Stormers to a 60-21 quarter-final loss against the Chiefs at Newlands.

    It was, in all likelihood, his last game for the union after joining way back in 2002.

    Burger is off to Saracens now where he has signed for two years.

    He will be 35 by the time he is done there, making a return to South Africa unlikely.

    The Stormers were well and truly outclassed against the Chiefs in all departments.

    It was, thanks to the new Super Rugby format, the first time they had faced New Zealand opposition all season.

    That may have helped them top their Conference during regular season, but not playing against the best sides in the competition clearly hurt the Stormers when it mattered most.

    Attendance figures at stadiums have also taken a dip this year.

    There were just under 29 000 people at Newlands for the biggest match of the Stormers season, but everywhere else in the country the attendance figures have been worse.

    Burger, speaking after his last outing in Stormers colours, did not hold back.

    “I think what would be nice is if we can have the round-robin system back,” Burger said.

    “We want to see All Black sides play here. We as players want to play against everyone, so maybe get rid of the Conference system even if you miss out on one or two Kiwi sides or a side based in Argentina or Japan every second year.

    “The Conference system this year was a bit complex to follow as a player as well. The key is to keep it simple.

    “We as players want life experiences. You want to go down to Christchurch to play the Crusaders at 21:00 when it’s freezing. It’s a great challenge for us as players and I think it keeps you up to speed with what the rest of the blokes are doing.

    “Next year we’ve got a draw with the Kiwis but then you’re missing out with the Aussies again and in sport things change very quickly. They (NZ teams) are the clear leaders at the moment but next year that might not be the case.”

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