Former Irish scrumhalf John Robbie is vocal in his belief that money has become the top priority in rugby, rather than the good of the game.
While the Springboks have pulled their 24 contracted players from the Absa Currie Cup, New Zealand are due to withdraw a group of 22 top players for the first half of the 2007 Vodacom Super 14.
But this is yet to be finalised, with Newscorp, sponsors of the regional competition applying the pressure on the NZRU to field these players.
“The All Blacks have been the best side in the world for awhile now, but money has begun to take priority over the good of the team,” Robbie said on Boots & All. “TV pays for rugby, and so it doesn’t matter if a national coach thinks that his players should be rested.
“If Newscorp gets its way and these players are forced to play in the Super 14, the All Blacks may indeed flop again at the World Cup and then everyone will say it was because they weren’t rested in the Super 14. Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding.”
Robbie also pointed out the flaw in the Springboks system of resting players. While he conceded that there is a lot of rugby played in the modern season, the current system is not specific enough to certain player’s abilities and fitness levels, and in some cases, too much rest will be to the detriment of the player.
“It’s an absolute shambles,” he said. “You could say that you need to look at individual players in assessing who actually needs a rest and who needs game time. A guy like Ricky Januarie seems to get worse if he has too much of a break. Look at how he gained weight when he was off with injury. Since he has been playing week-in week-out he has been phenomenal.”