Jake White said that the four-week tours for SA teams to Europe in the Vodacom URC are putting us at a disadvantage compared to northern hemisphere rivals.
Reflecting on the Vodacom Bulls’ recent overseas sojourn with two wins and two losses, the director of rugby highlighted the toll it takes on local franchises, pointing out that one of the reasons for South Africa leaving Super Rugby in 2021 was to avoid extended tours.
White believes the extended time away from home affects the performance of the teams and highlights the logistical challenges faced by SA teams, especially with reduced squad sizes.
Comparing travel habits, he mentions that some northern hemisphere teams fly in and out on the same day for certain matches, contrasting it with the taxing four-week tours, emphasising a need to reevaluate the schedule, considering the impact on players.
“I keep on reminding you that it is four weeks on tour,” White was quoted post-match after the Bulls’ defeat at Edinburgh on Friday night. “We have to look and see whether this is the way we want to keep it going forward.
“This is a massive advantage for the home teams when South African sides are away for four weeks.
“One of the sells we had to leave Super Rugby was we wouldn’t have to be away from home for a month. I’m sure that we will have to look at that because you can see what sort of toll it takes on the team. Four weeks away from home is tough.
“I was chatting to some of the local coaches here and some teams when they play in Italy, they fly in and out on the same day. Some teams travel from Edinburgh [in Scotland] to Wales and they fly on the same day.
“It’s almost like going to Cape Town from Johannesburg and back on the same day – a two-hour trip.”
He added: “I don’t think people appreciate how tough it is for South African sides to be away for four weeks with the reduced number of players.
“[With a reduced size of your squad], you can’t have the same training sessions [with] rotation at training. If you want to make training worthwhile, you have to keep all the players on the training field as well.”
Photo: Malcolm Mackenzie/ProSports/Shutterstock