All Blacks Super Rugby

All Blacks coach Ian Foster. Photo: Getty Images

All Blacks coach: We miss playing South Africa in Super Rugby!

All Blacks coach Ian Foster says he ‘loved’ having South African teams in Super Rugby even if they were without leading overseas-based stars.

All Blacks Super Rugby

All Blacks coach Ian Foster. Photo: Getty Images

Super Rugby effectively ground to a halt when the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year, with South Africa ultimately opting to head into the northern hemisphere as the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers joined the United Rugby Championship.


Although New Zealand and Australia remain involved in a new-look Super Rugby competition, which has since evolved to include Pacific Island nations, Foster has admitted that they’ve missed the presence of physically-imposing South Africans.

“I could say something and it’ll probably give a few headlines, but, at the end of the day, it’s been well-documented why South Africa aren’t in it at the moment,” Foster told The Breakdown.

“The travel would have been impossible the last two or three years, and before that, a lot of the South African top players were leaving and playing in Europe, which sort of weakened their teams.

“In an ideal world, I loved having South Africa in the competition. They brought a different style, and now we’ve just got to find other ways to grow our experience of playing them.

“It’s changed around a lot, Super Rugby, over many, many years. When rugby went professional and it [Super Rugby] started, everyone thought it’d be the downfall of New Zealand rugby because we wouldn’t be able to deal in the professional era.

“But we’ve shown that we’ve got some great franchises there at the moment, all doing a lot of work in terms of the development, linking with the provincial unions, and the system.

“Whilst we critique it hard, we talk about its weaknesses, it’s also got a massive degree of strength to it, and it has helped support an All Black team that has consistently been able to perform at the top echelon.

“We just want to keep having a tough, even competition and, where possible, have as many games against other countries’ players as well.”


Some pundits believe the diluted Super Rugby product will negatively impact the All Blacks

New Zealand won 12 out of 15 tests in 2021, and comfortably won the Rugby Championship title, but lost back-to-back Tests against Ireland and France to finish their end-of-year tour on a disappointing note.

Foster recently said there needed to be a well-balanced review process prior to the new season.

“Reviewing is a multifaceted thing and everyone will find different ways to do it,” Foster said.

“For us, we do a review every week. We get used to having pretty tough conversations with each other after test matches and after training sessions.

“I think the challenge when you review is to make sure it doesn’t turn into a judgment from one group to the other.”