Bobby Skinstad defends South African teams against criticism. Images via William West, AFP

Skinstad SLAMS unjust criticism of SA teams!

Bobby Skinstad defends South African rugby teams in European competitions, calling the criticism they face unfounded and unjustified.


Bobby Skinstad defends South African teams against criticism. Images via William West, AFP

According to an article from Rugby365, Bobby Skinstad has firmly dismissed the criticism aimed at South African rugby teams competing in European tournaments, labelling it as unjustified.

South African teams have achieved notable success since joining northern hemisphere competitions. The Stormers clinched the inaugural United Rugby Championship (URC) title in 2022 and reached another home final in 2023.

Moreover, the Sharks made history by becoming the first South African team to secure an EPCR tournament victory, recently triumphing over Gloucester in the Challenge Cup final.

Despite these accomplishments, many in the north continue to regard South African teams as outsiders.

The situation nearly reached a boiling point in April when Bulls’ director of rugby, Jake White, was criticised for resting his top players before a Champions Cup quarter-final against Northampton Saints in England.

White openly discussed the travel challenges, which did not sit well with some northern hemisphere analysts and supporters.

Skinstad Defends South African Teams

During a URC media round table this week, Skinstad was asked if the criticism was fair.

He responded decisively, stating, “Absolutely. I think it has been unfounded, pathetic and petty. If you look at the evolution of where rugby is trying to take itself, we’ve got hard-working and industrious leaders of all of these leagues.

“They are trying to put ingredients for 10 different types of output into one baking tin, which is hard.”

Skinstad on the Challenges of Integration

Skinstad emphasised the difficulties faced by South African teams in adapting to European competitions.

He remarked, “There will be scheduling issues and changes in participation. South African teams have been latecomers to the party, so I think we are punching above our weight.”

Contributions and Criticism

Addressing the negative comments, Skinstad asserted, “South Africa brings a lot to the table with good, challenging matches.”

He praised the Bulls for their strategic planning, even when their top players were unavailable, highlighting their strong performance in the URC.

Skinstad added, “The Bulls coming on tour with not all of their starting line-up, but now still competing and potentially being able to end on top of the table in the URC just means that they planned well with the resources they had at hand.

“It’s a fact. It is not up for debate and Jake White is a wily old character. He has been around the coaching game for so long that he knows when to turn the proper engines on.”

Overcoming Outsider Status

As a passionate South African, Skinstad finds the criticism hurtful but acknowledges its origin. “Any criticism levelled at South Africa hurts me and I get angry about that, but I do understand where it comes from.

“We are outsiders, we are latecomers, we are Johnny-come-latelys in these tournaments. But, do you know what, we just won one of them and we have won the URC already. So, I think we deserve our position.”


The initial success of South African teams in European rugby demonstrates their resilience and capabilities.

Despite facing criticism, figures like Skinstad remain confident in the significant contributions and competitive spirit that South African teams bring to these tournaments.