Should South Africa ditch SANZAAR for European competition?

The Cheetahs play in the Guinness Pro14 after they were cut from Super Rugby. Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images

Speculation is rife that SA Rugby is planning to ditch Sanzaar for the riches of northern-hemisphere rugby.

The Cheetahs and Kings were the first South African teams to make the move to Europe this past season when they competed in the PRO14. But now many reports suggest that more South African teams are set to follow.

Sanzaar rubbished this, but SA Rugby hasn't come out and poured cold water on the rumours. So, with the current television deal expiring in the next 18 months, it could be open season on South African teams.

KweséESPN looks at some of the pros and the cons if SA Rugby decides to ditch their southern-hemisphere partners for their northern counterparts.


South African rugby teams will definitely earn more money in Europe

The revenue from potential broadcast deals in Europe could make the last few Sanzaar deals look like peanuts. Cash-strapped SA Rugby is looking for a new fountain to replenish their coffers, and by playing in tournaments like the Champions Cup they will get a lot more buck for their bang on the field.

Prime-time matches will create 'new product' to attract new sponsors

More matches in prime time instead of the early hours of the morning will lead to larger advertising revenue, while a fresh, new concept for a tournament may attract new sponsors to the game. Super Rugby has become tedious, and is no longer the competition it once was.

Could be a way to stop South African rugby players going overseas

More money in SA Rugby's coffers translates into more money for the unions and their players. That could facilitate the proper implementation of a centralised contracting system, which will ensure that South Africa's best rugby players play for South African teams, which in turn will boost the quality of performances.

Travelling in the same time zone will help South African rugby teams

South African rugby will definitely benefit from shorter flights and travelling in the same time zone. Teams will now be able to leave for away matches on a Wednesday night, instead of a Sunday or Monday. This will aid recovery time, as well as give them a lot more time with their families.


Will the quality of rugby be the same in the northern hemisphere?

Over the past few years the quality of performances in the green and gold by some of the overseas players hasn't been great. Players such as Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen, Francois Hougaard and even the great Bryan Habana struggled when they played for the Boks at different times over the last two years.

Will rugby played in wet European conditions be attractive for South African viewers?

South African rugby fans love to be entertained, and they love good rugby. They want to watch a South African team deliver a mix of power and panache -- with the latter still coming along. The fields are a lot better in Europe these days, but the weather isn't. That may have a serious effect on how the Boks want to play.

The New Zealand factor will certainly be missed

South Africans have a love-hate relationship with the All Blacks and New Zealand franchises -- in Cape Town it may actually be 'love-love'. They hate losing to the All Blacks, but they love their style of play and their awesome skills on a rugby pitch. The entertainment value the Kiwis bring will definitely be lost.

Is moving to Europe really going to keep players from leaving South Africa?

South African teams will earn a lot more money if they go play their rugby in Europe, but will it be enough to compete with the Munsters, Saracens and Toulons of this world? These days, if you want players to play for the jersey, you have to pay them. It's the reality of the modern game.