The relegation scenario facing SA’s Super 14 franchises could make life difficult for Bok coach Jake White.
While White is hoping for co-operation from the five coaches regarding the selection and resting of key Springboks, he may encounter more resistance than usual thanks to the threat of relegation.
Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe told superrugby’s Gavin Rich that relationships could be strained during the season.
The Cape franchise plays the Cats at Ellis Park in the opening round, but their final two fixtures against the Sharks at King’s Park (6 May) and the Bulls at Newlands (13 May) could well decide their Super 14 fate.
“I think all the Super 14 coaches can see and understand Jake’s point of view and we understand what he wants from us,” said Van der Merwe. “We also understand why he wants us to work together. But I think that having the relegation threat hanging in the air is going to make it difficult for us to maintain this level of co-operation once the season starts.
“When all is said and done, the Super 14 franchises are all fighting for their survival, and the results of this year’s games can have a huge impact. Normally all the other South African teams support their countrymen when they play against overseas teams, but this year it might be different in that points dropped by the other teams might help us.
“We are now essentially playing a competition within a competition amongst ourselves, and I am not sure that is particularly conducive to an environment where one team will help another by drafting players and even by sharing ideas, as has happend sometimes in the past.”
SA LOCAL DERBIES
10 Feb – Cheetahs vs Bulls
11 Feb – Cats vs Stormers
18 Feb – Sharks vs Cheeaths
18 Mar – Stormers vs Cheetahs
15 Apr – Cats vs Sharks
22 Apr – Bulls vs Cats
29 Apr – Bulls vs Sharks
6 May – Sharks vs Stormers
13 May – Cheetahs vs Cats
13 May – Stormers vs Bulls